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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at the Labor Luncheon

February 16, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio: We’ve got a rowdy group from NYSNA here.

[Cheers]

Rowdy and loud –

[Cheers]

Now, do we agree, the only way we’re to change the world is by being rowdy and loud?

[Cheers]

Donald Trump wants you to be quiet – what are you going to do when he says to be quiet?

[Cheers]

I rest my case. Brothers and sisters, it is an honor to be with you. I have to tell you, we’re together at a very powerful moment. We are together at a very powerful moment – it is a moment of change in our city, in our state, in our nation. People predicted by now the labor movement would be on his back because of the Janus decision. Labor has actually got stronger [inaudible] –

[Cheers]

The Supreme Court of the United States tried to undermine your rights, tried to set you on a course of destruction – you said, no, thank you – and you rebuilt – and you got stronger. And this is something we celebrate. It is – more and more people in New York City, more and more people in New York State, more and more people around the country are waking to the fact that there is too much inequality in this society, it is not working for working people. Working people – let me just – let me offer a very simple idea to see if you agree – who creates all the things in our society who actually? Who actually produces the things that matter in our society? Working people, right? 

Audience: Yes!

Mayor: But who gets all the profit? Who benefits? The one percent – and that's getting worse and worse and worse, but it does not have to be that way. In New York City, we are proud to say we're not going to stand for a society of, and by, and for the one percent. We believe that it should be a city of, and by, and for working people. And so, we announced just last month that we are guaranteeing health care for every single New Yorker. 

[Cheers]

We announced that we will pass a law guaranteeing for a half-million people who do not have a single day of paid vacation – we will guarantee them two weeks paid time off every single year.

[Cheers]

We are doing the things that working people deserve, because working people are the ones that produce the wealth, they just don’t take it home with them, and we’ve got to change that. Everyone here has fought for justice and fairness, and I want to thank you for all of you who walked the picket line, for all of you have organized in a place where the business tried to fight you, for all of you have stood up for social justice. Let me say thank you. You don't get to hear it enough from your elected leaders, but you are the ones who change our society for the better. You are the ones who make the change, and I want to thank you. And I want to give a special shout out to the honorees, because they're all people who have fought for justice and had a huge impact. Gloria Middleton – congratulations to you, and CWA; Maria [inaudible] 1199 SEIU, congratulations; and, of course, the always eloquent, Anthony Harmon, UFT, congratulations. 

[Cheers]

I wanted to say real quick – if anyone tells you that change can't happen, if anyone tells you they're just depressed and they don't feel as being involved and their vote doesn't matter, tell them to come to Albany and watch what our State Senate just did, how many amazing bills were passed in just the first few weeks – the Reproductive Health Act, the DREAM Act, gun safety reform, the Child Victims Act, [inaudible] election reform we’ve been fighting for, for decades so we could actually empower people. That all happened in a matter of weeks, because we had a Democratic State Senate, something we all fought for and we won, brothers and sisters.

[Cheers]

And if anyone ever tells you there's not hope for our children, I say come to New York City. See what happens when our kids get full-day pre-K for free – see what it does for them.

[Cheers]

And we are well on our way to every child getting full-day 3-K for free – our three-year-olds getting early-childhood education. 

[Cheers]

We have the highest graduation rate we've ever had in our public schools. We have the most graduates of New York City public schools going on to higher education in the history of the City. Change is happening and it's because everyone here demanded a change and then helped us build it.

I want to finish by saying we've got to keep this progress going. If we can educate our children and give them what they deserve, we can remake our whole society. We can get rid of inequality if we give every child an equal start in life. That's what we believe in. And I'm telling you how committed I am as Mayor, how committed our Chancellor is. We need to continue this progress. We need to continue to have the accountability and the ability to make change. We need to continue mayoral control of education, because it allows us to make big changes like pre-K and 3-K, and AP for All, and Computer Science for All, and Community Schools – all the things that are making a difference. We intend to go a lot farther in New York City. 

And the man who is leading our schools, who is educating our children – 1.1 million children. He is responsible for their education every day. He is a great educator. He is a great change-agent. He is a social justice warrior. He is the Chancellor of the New York City public schools – Richard Carranza.

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