CWA Local 7304 Vice President Renee Brand kicked off the White House's first regional summit on worker voice, introducing Labor Secretary Tom Perez at the gathering in Minneapolis, MN.
"I am standing here on behalf of all the workers at the New Flyer Minnesota plant," she said. "Mr. Secretary, there are two important things you need to know about all of us: We are members of CWA Local 7304 and we build great busses. They say that manufacturing in this country is dead but I know you don't believe that. I know President Obama doesn't believe that either. And, I am living proof that manufacturing is alive in the United States."
The regional summit was an extension of the White House Summit on Worker Voice, a day-long session last October that brought together workers, union leaders, worker advocates, and businesses to explore ways to ensure that everyone can share in the U.S.'s economic growth. CWA President Chris Shelton and T-Mobile worker Abigail Parrish participated in that initial discussion.
On Tuesday, Brand continued that conversation. Brand explained that when competition is fair, New Flyer workers can "win hands down." Recently their plant in St. Cloud won the bid to build passenger buses for the City of Los Angeles. New Flyer created 150 new, high-quality jobs in St. Cloud and another 50 in Los Angeles.
"Through our union, we are now working to improve our product and our jobs even more," she said. "We want to partner with New Flyer on workforce training and development. We are encouraging New Flyer to hire more women and more veterans and more people who come from disadvantaged communities."
Brand thanked Perez for being a champion of workforce development and "understanding that public transit dollars should go the distance." And she closed with a reminder.
"Please remember that the very best apprenticeship and training programs are those where employees—through their unions—and employers partner together," she said.
Perez responded, "Renee, you're not just making buses, you are creating the middle class."
Renee Brand addresses the White House regional summit on worker voice, introducing Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
Renee Brand pledges to #StartTheConvo.