August 26, 2016

Margaret Stock, Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, spoke yesterday afternoon at the 36th Biennial Convention of the Alaska AFL-CIO in Anchorage. She received a standing ovation.

In her speech, Stock said, “When I was in first grade, I knew that I was not allowed to eat grapes. My mother told me that I could not eat grapes because of a man in California named Cesar Chavez, who was fighting for the rights of the workers who picked grapes. Cesar Chavez once said, ‘The end of all knowledge should be service to others.’”

I have always remembered that quote, Stock said, and it is one of the many reasons I chose to run for office so that I may be of service to others.

“The great strength of the United States has always been its broad middle class,” she said, “The middle class is under threat and stress today from numerous sources. We must enact government policies that strengthen and expand the middle class and provide real opportunities for advancement for everyone in our society.”

Alaska has the third highest union membership rate in the United States – behind only New York and Hawaii — with approximately 68,000 union members. Twenty three (23) percent of Alaska’s workforce is union.

Stock touched on four key points in her speech at the Captain Cook yesterday afternoon. The first point is that as a nation “we must recognize that the labor movement has been one of the great drivers of the growth of the middle class. We must protect and strengthen workers’ rights to organize for better wages and working conditions.”

The second point, she noted, is that Americans “must recognize that we have lost our way economically. We now have an economic system that rewards financial ‘wheeling and dealing’ over long term growth and job creation. We must reverse those incentives. We must make it a priority to encourage the creation of middle class jobs.”

The third focus for Stock is that state and federal governments must invest in infrastructure and schools. She added, “No one else is going to do it for us.”

Stock finally noted that “we need a rational immigration system. We must enforce our borders and at the same time, we must provide a way for law abiding undocumented workers – many with U.S. citizen spouses and children — to come out of the shadows and start paying taxes. Otherwise we will have a permanent underclass that will continue to be exploited and whose presence will continue to drive down wages and working conditions for everyone else.”

She explained that her beliefs were instilled in her at a young age from her mother who was a union organizer. She added, “Organizing a union was a difficult job then and now, but it was a job that helped many workers to rise and join the middle class through their union membership. If we believe in justice and equality and the pursuit of happiness, we must have laws that allow workers to express their union preferences free of threat, retaliation, or intimidation.”

In her concluding remarks, she said that she supports the labor movement because “we share a belief in justice and equality and the pursuit of happiness. We all share the goal of strengthening and growing the middle class, the backbone of our democracy. The labor movement is key to achieving that goal.”

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