At 'family reunion,' Sen. Elizabeth Warren rallies union troops

LOS ANGELES — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was showered with labor’s love late Sunday as she spoke to the AFL-CIO convention.


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Calling the event a “family reunion” for her, Warren thanked unions profusely for their support during her 2012 election campaign and gave a full-throated endorsement of several of labor’s priorities on Capitol Hill. The Massachusetts senator, buzzed about as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was interrupted several times by applause and greeted with whoops and whistles as she took the podium.

“I love being here with labor. It reminds me of a family reunion. Lots of roughhousing. Occasional arguments. Plenty of food. But ultimately, in a family we know we’ve got each other’s backs,” Warren said.

Warren also said she wouldn’t be on Capitol Hill without union support that helped her defeat Republican Scott Brown last year.

“I would not be here today as the senior senator from Massachusetts without your extraordinary support. So thank you. Thank you,” Warren said.

Warren went to give on to a rousing speech that espoused labor’s history of winning key workplace protections — ending child labor, establishing the minimum wage and protecting consumers.

“Powerful interests did everything they could to block reform. But our agenda was America’s agenda, and we prevailed,” Warren said.

But the senator said unions’ work is not done, blasting the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts and Wall Street. She said labor’s agenda is America’s agenda and has the support of the majority of Americans.

Warren said labor, standing with President Obama, was there when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was under attack and now has a confirmed director thanks to union support.

She also took aim at trade agreements, which Obama has espoused, much to labor’s ire, during his time in the White House. The Obama administration is currently at work at two massive agreements with the European Union as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“So here’s a question: Why are trade deals secret? I’ve actually heard people say that they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed. Think about that. I believe that if people would be opposed to a particular trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not happen,” Warren said to huge cheers.

Warren took aim at the secret negotiations behind the deals, saying companies want to slip in beneficial provisions into the agreements.

Using “we” over and over, Warren said voters support stronger rules on the financial sector, raising the minimum wage and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. The senator called the budget sequester “stupid” — again to huge cheers — and said they have a mandate from Obama’s reelection to push through this agenda.

“So here’s my message: Our agenda is America’s agenda. The American people know that the system is rigged against them and they want us to level the playing field. That’s our mandate. That’s what we are here to do,” Warren said.

The liberal champion brought union members to their feet by the end of her speech, telling she would fight alongside them.

“I am proud to stand with you, to march with you, and to fight side-by-side with you,” Warren said. “Our agenda is America's agenda — let me hear it, our agenda is America’s agenda — and if we fight for it, we win. We win.”