Vice President Joe Biden gave a fiery speech with VP candidate Tim Kaine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this morning along with labor leaders. Biden attacked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and similar one-percent corporation owners, who Biden says don’t see working people as equal to them.
“Know that there’s so many people like Trump who look at us like we’re not their equal. I’m sick of it,” Biden told the crowd. “I’ve had it up to here. Back 10 years ago when I spoke to the AFL-CIO convention, I said, and I meant it, the American Chamber of Commerce has declared war on labor’s house. It’s been an unrelenting war. They see their success, and so does he, in your demise. Not a joke. It’s about time we all woke up.”
Biden has long been a supporter of the labor movement and vice versa. It was the United Auto Workers who first endorsed Biden when he ran for the U.S. Senate at just 29-years old. Last year, Biden made news saying that unions are the ones who keep “barbarians at the gate,” protecting American workers from greedy corporations.
Watch the video below at about the 17 minute mark:
Read the full transcript provided by the Clinton campaign below:
“Know that there’s so many people like Trump who look at us like we’re not their equal. I’m sick of it. I’ve had it up to here. Back 10 years ago when I spoke to the AFL-CIO convention, I said, and I meant it, the American Chamber of Commerce has declared war on labor’s house. It’s been an unrelenting war. They see their success, and so does he, in your demise. Not a joke. It’s about time we all woke up.
The idea that – let me give you an example. Everybody assumes that I have been pro-labor for so long because of my background. Well, that’s true. But it’s also intellectually why I’ve been pro-labor. Here’s the deal, guys. A recent study – and I can name a hundred of them but I’ll just give you one – a recent study that just came out, the Economic Policy Institute, a 50-page study – 57 pages, to be precise – came out 10 days ago. Here’s the headline: ‘Union Decline Lowers Wages for Non-Union Workers.’ Notice it didn’t say union decline lowered wages for union workers. For non-union workers. It goes on to point out that when I spoke here, and I think I did, in 1979, if we had the same number of organized labor in America as we did then, the average wage for a non-union worker, blue and white collar, would be $2,750 a year more than it is today. Non-union workers.
So ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time we stop apologizing for anything, for anything at all. I am so tired, so tired, of the fact that the Chamber of Commerce, even some Democrats, sort of tiptoe around labor, organized labor, unions. Because guys, look. I’m not joking. Think about where we are. When the recession hit, this guy and I spent a lot of time in Wisconsin with Scott Walker, in Missouri, all across the country. Who – no, no, think about this – who did they successfully blame for the recession? Successfully blame? They won. They won. They convinced, in the state of Wisconsin, that the reason why their schools were in trouble was because of teachers. They said it was because of the union movement. You can boo; there’s no joke about this. We got to break the back of this.
Ladies and gentlemen, look. Here we are. We got a guy running for president of the United States. We have a case in the Supreme Court that, but for one vote, will fundamentally limit your right to organize. Fundamentally limit. What has this all been about? Go back and look at everything you’ve dealt with over the last 12 to 15 years. It’s about inching away at your rights as a union. Why we couldn’t get card check – they scared the hell out of a bunch of Democrats who didn’t have the guts to stand up and be counted. They scared the hell out of them because they convinced people. And by the way, the union movement wasn’t very smart in how it handled it, to be very blunt about it. We didn’t do a very good job. We didn’t do a very good job.
Guys, we are going to move into an area over the next 25 years where white collar workers are going to need us badly. Going to need us badly. We’ve got to think of a different way and a different intensity with which we organize because the jobs of the future are the jobs in the high tech industries. They will be manufacturing. They will be nursing. They will be health care, but traditionally, areas where we haven’t organized before.
And so, folks, the reason I bother to tell you this is that – the reason why we got in trouble is corporate America. The reason we got in trouble was the greed of Wall Street. But if you think about it, if I had told you we were going to be in this much trouble early on in our administration and that they were going to be able to pin it on you guys, you’d have told me I was nuts. But they did. Go back and look at those polls. Go back and look at the polls. So demand, demand anybody you vote for to speak up. Demand they do what Hillary is doing, I mean across the board, what Katie’s doing. Make sure, folks, that we’re waking up.
As I said, we’re in a position where it’s not just Joe Biden. I’m going to end by citing a few more boring, wonkish points. But you should remember them, with all due respect. You should keep them in mind. So when anybody argues that you have the ammunition to argue back.
The Harvard Business Review published a study at the turn of the year. It looked at 444 Fortune 500 companies who have stayed in the Fortune 500 for all 10 years from 2003 to 2013. It calculated they made $2.7 trillion in income. That’s a good thing. But here’s how they spent that $2.7 trillion in profit. They spent 54 percent of it buying back their stock. Before Reagan, they weren’t able to buy back their own stock. The reason they do that is they buy back the stock to drive up the price of the stock. If you have a company worth $10 and there’s 10 shares of stock and you buy back five of them, then the five that are left are worth almost twice as much as the 10 were. And guess how corporate entities get paid, how CEOs get paid? They get paid in stock options. I think it’s 78 percent of all salary – all salary – that in fact is paid to CEOs is in stock options, okay? That’s why they do that.
Number two, they spent 37 percent of it to give back to, quote, ‘their investors,’ the so-called job creators. I don’t know when the hell that term came about. But the people who own stock – all short-term pay it back. Leaving 9 percent for everything else – for expanding the enterprise, for hiring new people, for raising wages, for research and development. It’s gotten so bad that I got a phone call that I never thought I’d get, Tim, from the leader of the – a guy named Branson you see on television, a guy who heads up DOW Chemical, a guy who heads up the biggest container operation in the world, a billionaire, the head of the Fortune 500 company organization. They all came to my house. You know what they wanted to talk to me about? They said, ‘We think you can help us get rid of this crazy way in which corporations operate now.’ They call it short-termism. All they do is want to know what the next quarter is going to be. Gov, you’ve forgotten more about this than most people know. So what they’re saying is we’ve got to change the way corporations do business in America. We’ve got to make sure they’re thinking long term so they’re able to not pay out all this money and invest in new plant and equipment, buy new employees, bring on new employees, raise salaries.
Folks, the only outfit – what’s happening now is everybody is getting it. Last thing – this Republican – it’s not just a left-leaning think tank or Joe Biden. The single greatest threat to growth worldwide according to Standard & Poor’s and the World Economic Forum, big outfits that have nothing to do with either party, is the concentration of wealth. The concentration of wealth. It’s obscene. It’s obscene. But it’s not just a matter of fairness. It’s a matter of growing the whole economy. Everybody growing.
So if I make all the money and I’m the widget-maker, and you have no money to buy my widgets, eventually, guess what, I’m in trouble. We’re eating our own seed corn. Hillary not only understands it, she gets it intellectually, emotionally, and she knows how to deal with it with this guy.
So, guys, there’s a lot of work to do. I’ll conclude by saying that there used to be a basic bargain in America. Everybody signed on to it; Democrats and Republicans signed on to it. And the bargain went like this: if you contributed to the profitability of the enterprise you worked with, the business or whatever you did, you got to share in the benefits – not the same as the owner, but you got to share in the benefits. That is not happening today because of obscure tax policy, because of the way we treat corporate short-termism and short-term earnings, a whole range of reasons I won’t bore you with but they get completely. Until we get rid of the vestiges of the eight years – the eight years of the Bush administration that we haven’t been able to get rid of yet – we got the truck out of the ditch, we got it up on solid ground, the tires are inflated, the engine has been reworked, it’s going 40 miles an hour, but it’s capable of going 70 miles an hour. What has to happen in the meantime, we’ve got to change the signs along the highway. We’ve got to get rid of those things that are left that most people don’t understand, understandably, in order to be able to get people back in the game where they get a fair share here.
And by the way, do you think the man who said American workers make too much money agrees with that bargain? This – I mean, for real. I mean, look, to me this is about values. The fundamental difference between where the Republican Party is today and where we are is what we value. I really mean that sincerely. My dad used to have an expression. Someone would come up and tell my dad – he said, ‘This is what I value, Joe.’ My dad would look at him and say, ‘Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.’ Show me your budget, I will tell you what you value.
We have a completely different values system right now. Do you think the man who – literally, this is – how do you make decisions about your friends, who’s going to be your friend? How do you make decisions about who you trust in your neighborhood or your workplace or at school? How – I really mean it. This is not complicated. How do you make decisions about who you’re going to marry, who you’re going to love? It’s ultimately based on trust, and you watch how they act and how they treat other people. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. All politics is is a logical extension of personal relationships with a little less information to go on. Look at the man’s behavior – personal behavior, personal behavior. He really does believe that workers make too much. He really does believe that the problem is American workers are lazy. He – no, I mean, really. For real. Everything – he really does believe that he does not have an obligation to his subcontractors. For real. He thinks that’s an appropriate way to do business. You’re out there – what’s he say? The purpose is to make a profit. The purpose is to make a profit – fairly to make a profit. It’s not to make a profit.
And so, guys, the fact of – do you think the automobile industry would be selling 17 million vehicles this year had Donald Trump been president instead of Barack Obama? Do you think for a minute he’d appoint – he’s going to appoint a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy to the Supreme Court to uphold the long history the Court has protected in terms of collective bargaining, which is at stake? It’s a four-to-four vote right now. Do you think for a minute – think he has any idea of the conversations that went on at your kitchen table this morning, or the one I was raised at, or the one that Katie and Tim were? He doesn’t realize that people making – husbands and wives making eighty, ninety, a hundred thousand dollars a year are having real trouble. They’re making a tough decision. How many conversations took place at the kitchen tables in the neighborhoods I’m from and you’re from that went like this: ‘Honey, I – we need a new set of tires.’ ‘We’ve got to get another 10,000 miles out of those tires. We don’t have the money right now.’ ‘Honey, who’s going to tell Mary she can’t go back and live on campus at Penn State, she’s going to have to go to one of the satellite campuses.’ ‘Who’s going to tell the kids that this year, again, we can’t take that vacation we always took for a week.’ ‘Who is going to tell your mom I don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t – I’m not sure we can keep her here. I’m not sure.’
These are conversations taking place in the neighborhoods I grew up in and you grew up in. He has no notion of that. None. Zero. And ladies and gentlemen, it matters. What distinguishes us as a country – and this is what Tim and I were talking about in the garage – the American values set at its core, everybody kind of gets it. It’s about a fair bargain. And what every one of you know and what every one of your children know is the most difficult thing for a parent to have to deal with is to look at their child who has been diagnosed with a disease, look at their child who has fully qualified to go to college, look at their child who has a real opportunity, and know there’s nothing they can do to help that child. It’s not just about whether or not a qualified young person gets an education; it’s about the dignity and the respect of the parent.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I said, I was a pretty good athlete in high school and I remember my dad ran an automobile agency. He didn’t – he was high school – he didn’t own it, he just ran it. And one great thing about having a dad who runs an agency is that you got to take a relatively new car to every prom. And I had a – for 150 bucks I bought a ’57 Plymouth convertible, candy-apple red with beach towels as seat covers. And after my – one of my games in Claymont, baseball games, I jumped in the car, which was the standard practice, took off my spikes and I drove 22 miles down to Newark, Delaware, where the university is, where he managed the dealership. I pulled my car into the same parking space in the back of the used car lot and ran in in my uniform to see Mary, the one who ran his office, and said, ‘Mary, where’s dad?’ Because he was picking out a car I could take for that night that was all simonized and polished. And she said, ‘He’s out, honey, by the lanes going into the repair shop.’ My dad was a very graceful man, very well-dressed man, and I walked out and my dad was pacing back and forth – true story. Hillary gets this. And he looked up and he looked at me and he said, ‘Joey, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’ I said, ‘What’s the matter, dad?’ I honest to God – my word as a Biden, this is a true story – I honest to God thought something happened to my sister or my brothers or my mom. I said, ‘What’s the matter, dad?’ He said, ‘Joey, I went to the state bank’ – it was the Farmers’ Bank, and they used to finance the loans in the company he worked for – he said, ‘I went to see Charlie Delcher, the guy at the bank, to borrow some money to get you to school, honey.’ He put his head down and he said, ‘And they wouldn’t lend me the money, Joey. I’m so damn ashamed. I’m so ashamed, honey. I’m so ashamed.’
It’s about my dad. It’s about the moms and dads all across America whose pride and dignity is stripped of them when they’re making a decent living working like hell and still can’t afford to do the basic things, and it goes for women too, the basic things their family needs. That’s who we are. That’s who you are. That’s what labor is.
And folks, if there’s ever a time we need that, it’s now. So folks, we can’t let this happen. We can’t elect a man who belittles our closest allies and embraces Vladimir Putin, a man who seeks to sow division among our allies for his own gain and disorder around the world. I’m supposedly an expert on foreign policy. I chaired the committee he was on, and I’m going to say something outrageous – I know as much about American foreign policy as anybody living just because I’ve been doing it so long. I just got finished coming back from Europe. You know why I was sent over? Tim knows. To reassure the Baltic states, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, that if they were attacked, we mean what we say by NATO – we don’t mean what Donald Trump says, he’s not sure he’d respond.
Folks, we can’t let it happen. Let me tell you what I literally tell to every world leader, and I wanted you guys to be reminded of it. It’s never, never, never, ever been a good bet to bet against the American people. Not one single time. America not only has the finest fighting force in the history of the world, we have the largest and strongest economy in the world today. We have the most productive workers in the world, and that is a fact. And given a fair shot, they have never, ever, ever let their country down – not once, not one single – just given a fair shot.
So look, folks, when unions are strong, America is strong. Everybody gets a fair shake. We grow. In America, we never bow. We never bend. We never break when confronted with crisis. We endure and we overcome, and it’s because of you we’ve been able to do it. It’s time to get up and holler. It’s time to get up and get back. I am more optimistic about the prospects of America today than I ever have been in my whole career. It’s time we get out of our own way and get Trump out of the way and elect this guy and Hillary Clinton president and vice president of the United States of America.
God bless America and may God protect our troops, including his son in harm’s way.”