Last week, we launched our Guild Community Spotlight series; each installment will focus on getting to know a member of the Guild Community. This week, in our second ever spotlight post, we are channeling the CGA spirit by featuring the powerful words of two of our speakers, Cardinal Seán O’Malley and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The Guild community is enriched by the inspiration its members draw from leaders in all areas of life: political, religious, movement-based, and so much more. Cardinal O’Malley and Senator Warren’s strong statements about organized labor and their convictions regarding the important mission of the Guild serve as testament to and encouragement of the work of our members from all corners of the labor relations community.
Below is the video and transcription of Cardinal O’Malley and Senator Warren’s speeches delivered at the 50th Anniversary Cushing-Gavin Awards Dinner in early December. You watch the videos of all of the speeches from that night on our YouTube channel.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Greeting and Invocation
Thank you very much. Good evening everyone. It’s a great joy to be with you here tonight. We thank all of you for your presence. We as the Catholic community are so proud of the Labor Guild and everything that you are accomplishing; and to think that this is 50 years of wonderful work. And the importance of organized labor in our society is now more important than ever, and so your presence here tonight [APPLAUSE]… We just came out of a political campaign where everyone talked about income inequality, and the solution to that is organized labor [APPLAUSE]. No doubt about that.
We’re so grateful to Allyson Every and to your board and to everyone who supports the work of the Guild. I just want to say a word of congratulations to the honorees and thank them for the fantastic work that they do for labor. And now let us place ourselves in the Lord’s presence as we ask for His blessing.
Loving God we gather in your name with gratitude for the many blessings You have bestowed upon us. We acknowledge your goodness and pray for guidance as we use our talents and abilities for the good of our families and our communities. We pray that employers will always act justly in pursuit of the best interests of those who labor for them. Help us to affirm and uphold human dignity through our endeavors and to respect God’s gifts of life that enables all of our work. Tonight again we give thanks for the Guild’s commitment to the wellbeing of men and women who each day labor on behalf of our communities and our society. We invoke God’s blessing in our gathering, the meal we enjoy, and all the service this evening as we pray:
Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Speech
Thank you, thank you, thank you. God it’s good to be here with you. Thank you.
Now, it has been a tough few weeks and it is good to be home with all of you, thank you. I want to thank the Cardinal, I want to thank the archdiocese, for the continued support of the Labor Guild. This is an organization that provides valuable service to the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And I want to give a special shout out tonight to our honorees: to Fran Boudrow, to Mike Felsen, to Susan Horwitz, and to Glenn Kingsbury [MUCH APPLAUSE]. I am so proud to have a chance to stand alongside all four of them and all of you.
I just wanted to be here tonight to be with my friends in the Massachusetts labor movement because I know we’ve got some really tough fights ahead of us. We’ve got GOP control coming up of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, and they are determined to weaken unions, to weaken labor protection. And my view on this is we can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back. Me, I’m ready to fight back.
What I’m ready to fight back against is if they try to do huge tax breaks for those at the top again, for millionaires and giant corporations at the expense of working families, then it’s time for us to fight back [APPLAUSE]. If they want to roll back the financial reforms and turn Wall Street loose again to crash this economy, then it’s time to fight back [APPLAUSE]. If they want to try to take away collective bargaining, or to strip the rights of workers to come together, to organize together, to bargain together, then it is time to fight back [APPLAUSE].
There’s going to be a lot of fighting back because I recognize we’re going to be on defense a lot over the next few years. But there are also places we’re going to be on offense. And one of the big places we’re going to be on offense is infrastructure. We need to make the investments in making America a 21st century country.
I just want to say one thing about infrastructure. I was reading a piece the other day about the American Society for Civil Engineers. It says that we have underinvested in infrastructure over the past 30 years or so by about 3 trillion dollars. Now just do the math on the back of an envelope on that, that’s about 100 billion dollars a year we should have been spending on infrastructure and didn’t. And that means, if Massachusetts—let’s just say we got our one fiftieth of that—that would have been 2 billion dollars invested in infrastructure right here in Massachusetts year after year after year after year. That’s money that should have been invested and think about what it would have meant: good jobs right here in Massachusetts, a transportation system that lets people get to good jobs all over this commonwealth. It would have meant investments in energy, investments in communications, investments in water and sewers and all the things we need to run a country.
We have to make a decision as a country, and it’s whether or not we’re going to break apart or are we all going to be in this one together. And to be in it to build a future, not just for those at the top, but to build a future for all of us. I know that it’s going to be a tough fight going forward, but I also know there’s no one I would rather fight alongside than the people of labor. We understand better than anyone that when it comes to building a future, we are stronger together.
I am honored to be here with you tonight and we are going to fight on. Thank you.