Jul 8, 2020
Joe Biden Speech Transcript at IBEW’s 2020 Virtual Political Conference
Joe Biden spoke at IBEW’s (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) 2020 virtual political conference on July 8. Biden said some funding should “absolutely” be redirected from police. Read the full transcript of his speech here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev for free and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Joe Biden: (00:01)
We share the point of view you just laid out at the AFL-CIO about what people are looking for. They trust first and foremost the union, the union. They trust the union and it really, really matters and [Lonnie 00:00:18], I think the reason why you and I hit it off to begin with and why all the years you guys have supported me is we have the same value set. The same basic fundamental value set. We don’t think it’s corny to talk about patriotism because we live it. How many of you wearing that blue collar shirt you have on also wore a uniform and fought for this country and volunteered like my son? How many of you have stood up and stood up and taken on corruption when you’ve seen it? Look what’s happening today. You have the President of the United States, it’s all about him. It’s never about the union leadership, it’s about the union membership. It’s always about … That’s why you trust your leadership. It’s about the union membership being looked out for.
Joe Biden: (01:03)
With Trump, it’s always about him. It’s not about anybody else. This isn’t about me this election. This is about you. This is about the American people. Think about what’s going on right now. Here we have a President of the United States who is dealing with Putin in a way that he in fact is … We’ve learned overwhelmingly that he is out there not doing a damn thing about the fact that there’s overwhelming evidence that Putin has gone and he’s paying significant bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. If my son were still alive after having spent a year in Iraq, I don’t know what the hell I would do. How all those parents feel, all you who served feel. Look what’s going on internationally. Look what’s going on at home. It’s always about him. “Oh, we don’t want to talk about whether or not … There are too many tests being taken to determine whether COVID is out there. I want them to slow up the tests.” The guy who says I’m commander in chief and then doesn’t command anything in this fight against the COVID-19.
Joe Biden: (02:04)
Folks, this is more than [inaudible 00:02:06], it’s about decency, it’s about honor, it’s about restoring dignity. It’s the way you guys and you women were raised. If you used the language he uses in public, your mother would wash your mouth out with soap. At least where I come from in Scranton and Claymont, the people I grew up with, you guys, you women. I really mean this. It really angers me because this is ultimately about values [inaudible 00:02:33].
Joe Biden: (02:34)
Look Lonnie, your stalwart leadership, everything you’ve done is to uplift union households. I want to thank you all today for your faith in my effort here and for your encouragement in this fight. I couldn’t be prouder to stand with you and as I said it’s about values and our values system. Like I said I learned mine taught by my grandfather, grandmother, my mom, dad at the kitchen table, patriotism, opportunity, decency, respect, dignity. Everybody getting a fair shot. You never have asked for more than you’ve worked for. My dad used to have an expression. He said, “Joe, your job’s about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about your place in the community. It’s about being treated with respect and it’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, “Honey, it’s going to be okay.””
Joe Biden: (03:23)
Under this president, that has been decimated. Look what he’s done as I said with Putin regarding election interference, Afghanistan. Look at the reaction of our military. Did you ever think you’d see those you served, four four-star generals, walking away, two of them have worked for him in his administration, fundamentally exposing everything of what he’s about and saying they’re … I won’t put words in their mouth, but saying that they don’t want to be associated?
Joe Biden: (03:52)
You’ve been with me my whole career. You’re the folks I grew up, you’re the backbone of the country. You’ve heard me say it many times. You’re the one that keeps this engine running, this economy. Wall Street didn’t build America. You built America. Working men and women built America and unions built the middle class. You’re the folks who go out there and repair the broken pipelines and fuel us to power our communities. You’re the ones who risk your lives to bring us back after a major storm.
Joe Biden: (04:19)
Folks, the storm we’re facing together is unlike any we’ve seen in our lifetimes. More than 130,000 people dead, dead, because of the coronavirus. Columbia Medical School is saying that there would be … If he had acted several months or just one week earlier, there would be 36,000 I think it was fewer people dead. He’s not changed anything. This pandemic is still raging. It’s going up, I just got off an hour and a half phone call with the leaders in the medical community telling me what’s about to happen. Unemployment is the worst since it’s been since the Great Depression and in the midst of all of it we’re coming face to face with this long overdue reckoning around the deep wound of racial inequality.
Joe Biden: (05:05)
Emerging in this moment, we need a stronger, safer, more just, more unified nation. [inaudible 00:05:12] be the toughest challenges you ever faced. We need to repair the lines that have been severed between the American people. We need to restore power, power to workers, to communities, been denied so long. Why is it, look at me, why is it that we’re in a situation where the studies show that corporate America made several trillion dollars from 2004 I think to 2014, a study done at the University of Massachusetts. What did they do? They spent all 91% of it on stockholder buyback, on buying back their stock, and stockholder dividends. 9% for everything else.
Joe Biden: (05:56)
What’s going on here? We need to build back, not just to where we were but to build back better than we’ve ever been. Look, I’m sorry to get so … Just get really angry about it because I’ve told Lonnie and I’ve told every union member that I’ve been dealing with. As my dad used to say, “The only way to deal with power is to have power.” You think corporate America is going to roll over because all of a sudden they realize what’s going on is not fair? We need power and the only power capable to deal with what is the corruption going on in our country today in terms of how people are treated is union power, and the IBEW is going to be a critical part of that effort.
Joe Biden: (06:40)
In the swirl of this crisis, Americans are seeing just how vital unions truly are. They see you, stepping into the breach to hold the country together in times of crisis. Electrical workers, healthcare workers, transit workers, folks who teach our kids, maintain our power lines, respond to national disasters, racing into burning buildings, picking up garbage in our streets, racing, racing to make sure that people are protected. America has a new name for you, essential workers, as if you haven’t been your whole lives. You deserve respect not only in times of crisis but every single day. You deserve a safe workplace, fair play. You deserve the protective gear you need to do your jobs. You deserve a government that has your back, has your back. You shouldn’t have to fight the Trump administration to set an OSHA standard. You shouldn’t have to fight for that basic respect. You should have a president who insists on it from the very outset and fights for it every single day.
Joe Biden: (07:41)
You know, if you all think about this, I saw a study done. I don’t know by … One of the main outfits on Wall Street, all Wall Street’s worried about, “With Biden, the progressive Biden gets elected and pro-union Biden is going to hurt things.” One of the main operations says, “No it’s going to help things but guess what? His proposal is likely to raise salaries. His proposal is likely to increase work on infrastructure, invest more in the economy. It’s likely to grow the economy.” You are the reason why the economy has grown in the past. If we win, labor’s going to get the respect and the results it’s always deserved.
Joe Biden: (08:23)
You know, the work ahead is not going to be easy. Republicans have waged war on labor’s house, you’ve heard me say this for the past 15 years. There’s a hell of a lot of repair work to be done and a lot more to build up after that. So it’s critical that we do the work we can to make it easier for workers to unionize, for unions to organize. That’s not a one day priority. That’s a Day One priority. Because you all are the ones who are going to rebuild our country.
Joe Biden: (08:57)
When we come out of this pandemic, and you’re going to be the reasons why we get out of the pandemic, because job growth is going to occur because of the investments in infrastructure and growth and manufacturing and a whole range of other things. We’re going to have a breathtaking opportunity to create good-paying union jobs, to deliver the promise of America to Americans who have been denied it for much too long. To rewrite our economy so the prosperity flow is not just to CEOS, but to workers who actually build the country. Lonnie knows I believe this with every fiber of my being. What I proposed is it can be done. I think we’re in a position to really make it happen, and my team and your team are already working closely together to light up the path forward here. Critical laws like the PRO Act to strengthen collective bargaining. On politics like prevailing ….
Joe Biden: (09:58)
Look, I guess I’m taking too much time but when these guys go out and misclassify workers as independent contractors, when they go do so many things to make it harder to get overtime [inaudible 00:10:13], we have a bold vision of modernizing the electrical grid, and it’s going to create millions of good-paying jobs. Just starting off by installing 500,000 electrical vehicle charging stations. Electrifying our rail system. So much more that not only does it make sense longterm for us and good jobs but it’s the thing that’s going to take us out of this near depression. We have an extraordinary chance before us, but it can’t get there without you. We can’t, and that’s not hyperbole. So please, stay engaged. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Let them know how important this moment is for all of us. Tell them what I’m telling you today and I mean it sincerely, we need you. We want you. The country needs you. I’m absolutely confident, if we pull together, not only are we going to win, we’re going to take a monumental step forward for the prosperity, power, safety, and dignity of all American workers. I truly, truly believe that. You’re more than essential workers, you provide more than an essential service.
Joe Biden: (11:27)
You are literally the backbone of this country, and when I said … When I announced I said I was announcing for three reasons. One, to restore the soul of the nation. Decency, honor, all those values which you try to teach your kids. All of them. The ones we’ve been taught. Secondly, to rebuild the backbone of this country. The middle class and it can’t fully be built without growing unions, not slowing, growing. Growing the union movement. You know back in the 30s, when we had the first breakthrough in terms of what [inaudible 00:12:04] having a union movement be able to move, it didn’t say we should allow you, it said we should encourage the union movement.
Joe Biden: (12:16)
That’s what you’re going to have in the White House. Somebody who’s going to be hollering for the union movement and you’re going to have a seat at the table, I promise you. Look, your engagement is absolutely essential. We cannot get there without you and at the core, at the core, the reason why you’re so important is because of your value system. Decency, honor, patriotism. Real patriotism. Making sure that we do what’s right for the country.
Joe Biden: (12:51)
Think about it. The union movement not only did an awful lot for union members. We wouldn’t have a 40 hour week for all people, not just union members were it not for unions. We wouldn’t have overtime were it not for unions. We wouldn’t have the wage raised in some states to $15.00 an hour which you guys make more than without the union movement. We wouldn’t have all the safety built in our system without the union movement. You didn’t do it just for you. You provided that opportunity for everybody else who works for a living.
Joe Biden: (13:28)
One big thing has changed. Two big things. One, you’re going to have a president who is a union guy and who cares about, understands the significance, and secondly, all the talk the last 20 years about driving down the rationale for unions, all of a sudden, this phrase everybody’s been woked, well guess what? The rest of the working class people in America have been awakened and realized, “Whoa, why because I work at a food restaurant did I have to sign an agreement that I will not compete, a non-compete agreement, that I will not go across town to another fast food restaurant and try to get a raise? What in the hell is that about? Why do the people have to sign that? Why is that? Why is it that when a majority of the corporations when you get a job make you sign you won’t ever tell anybody what your wage is that you work with or you can be penalized. Why is that/ They don’t want the woman or the African-American or woman or Hispanic working next to you to find out that you make more money than they make.” It’s all about driving down wages, driving down opportunity.
Joe Biden: (14:43)
I’m getting too wound up here, but I really mean it. Lonnie, I can’t thank you enough for you guys all the way back in February endorsing me. I promise you, I promise you, I promise you, I will not let you down. God bless you and may God protect our troops. We can do this. We can do this.