Address: Economic Platform Delivered at Machinists Statewide Convention
Hi, my name is Randy Bryce and I’m an ironworker.
I’m also running a campaign to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Running for Congress against one of the most powerful politicians in the country wasn’t on my bucket list.
I didn’t even get active in politics until I was already in my 40s, shortly after Scott Walker signed Act 10.
As a member of Ironworkers Local 8, I joined my fellow union members in the public sector and we fought back against Act 10 as hard as we could.
I fought not only out of solidarity, but also because I knew they would come for us in the trades too
And sure enough, we’ve seen a wave of anti-union policies both in Wisconsin and across the country.
In the ironworkers, we used to be able to train up apprentices on publicly funded projects. It was a workforce development program, at no additional cost to the taxpayer, that gave Wisconsinites a family-sustaining career.
But Scott Walker has taken that away from us.
And, today, this very day, in Washington, D.C., the Supreme Court is hearing Janus v. AFSCME — a case that’s being funded by anti-union billionaires with the goal of devastating unions across the country.
When someone attacks your livelihood, you don’t really have any choice but to stand up and fight.
So that’s why I got into politics 8 years ago, and that’s why I’m running, today.
I’m running to protect the right of hardworking people to make a decent wage in this country, even if they couldn’t afford $50,000 a year in college tuition.
I’m running to pass the Butch Lewis Act because men and woman who paid into their pensions their entire lives, and are now in their 70s, should not be forced back onto the construction site in order to survive.
I’m running to fully fund OSHA, because no one should have to sacrifice their safety in order to provide for their family.
I’m running to pass a real infrastructure plan with real federal funding behind it.
This infrastructure plan that Trump put forward, it doesn’t provide anywhere near the funding we need to fix our roads and bridges.
It relies entirely on privatization, which means no jobs for people like you and me, and higher tolls and other costs for commuters.
I’m also running to pass a Federal Domestic Bill of Rights so that the people who work in our home, the health aides who care for our elderly, who have some of the most important jobs in this country, have the right to form a union.
Unfortunately, union members are not the only working people Paul Ryan and Scott Walker are attacking.
More people in this country are working in the service industry than ever before, and many of them are making the minimum wage.
And it just shows you how little Ryan thinks about these folks because when he was asked if he knew what the minimum wage was in Wisconsin, he hesitated, he wasn’t exactly sure.
The minimum wage is $7.25, which means if you’re working full time in Wisconsin, you can still be living in poverty.
That’s not right, and that’s why we need to raise the minimum wage to at least $15/hour.
We also need to put in place other protections for people working service jobs, like fair scheduling and wage theft prevention.
These laws are extremely basic protections for working people, but Republicans oppose them because they say these regulations are job-killing.
That’s B.S. It doesn’t cost an employer a dime to give their employees two weeks notice on what their schedule will be, so their employees can make childcare arrangements.
You know what’s actually job killing? Our health insurance system.
Right now in this country, health insurance and employment are tied together.
That’s bad for companies who have to factor those additional costs into their business plans, and it’s really bad for working families who could suddenly be without health insurance when a parent loses a job. That’s a double whammy for that family.
It’s clear that we need something very different than what we have right now, and that’s why I support Medicare for All.
Medicare for All would lower costs for families by giving the government greater negotiating power with health insurance companies.
Speaker Ryan presented his alternative plan for our health insurance system to the country in May.
He passed a bill that would have repealed protections for pre-existing conditions, caused 23 million Americans to go without health insurance, and raised health costs for seniors.
The answer to the problem with our health insurance system is not to let the drug companies run free.
We have seen for the last several decades what happens when you leave the pharmaceutical and health insurance executives to their own devices: We get sky high prices for Epipens and other lifesaving medications for kids. We get health insurance with deductibles that are too high to actually use.
It’s time for Medicare for All. And once we do that, we need to pass paid family and medical leave, too!
Currently, just 15 percent of workers in this country have access to paid leave through their employers.
That means far too many Wisconsinites are forced to make enormous sacrifices if they want to spend time with their newborn child, care for an ill family member, or recover from an illness themselves.
I support the Family Act, which would guarantee nearly all workers 12 weeks of paid medical or family leave.
The Republicans have presented their own version of a paid family leave bill, but their plan relies on raiding Social Security funds.
We shouldn’t be destabilizing Social Security! We should be expanding it!
We should be asking the wealthy to pay their fare share, so the Social Security system that we’ve been paying into our whole lives is actually secure.
Unsurprisingly, Paul Ryan disagrees.
Shortly after he passed this tax scam bill, which gave away billions of dollars to the top one percent in this country, he announced that we needed to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in order to pay for those tax cuts to the wealthy.
Now Paul Ryan claims he didn’t just do those tax cuts for the wealthy. That they’ll also help you and me.
But then why do our tax cuts expire and the corporations’ don’t?
As a Congressman, I would make our tax cuts permanent.
And I would pass a tax on Wall Street’s financial transactions, which would discourage them from the risky behavior that crashed our economy and make sure the wealthiest people in this country finally pay their fair share.
I would also protect the Work Opportunities Credit, a tax credit provided to businesses who hire veterans.
Paul Ryan tried to cut this credit last year and, as a veteran, I can tell you that things are already hard enough for our guys and gals coming home.
They do not need their Congressman making it more difficult for them.
So in addition to protecting that credit, we should also provide more opportunities for veterans who want to start their own business.
There is no one more disciplined, more resourceful and more persistent then our men and women in uniform. We should give them the tools to be our next generation of entrepreneurs.
Right now, this country is not working for working people.
The rich have never been richer and the middle class is shrinking.
And there’s a whole set of things Paul Ryan could be doing to fix that.
He could toughen rules that would ensure equal pay for equal work.
He could provide additional workforce development programs, so that working class kids who can’t afford to go to college, can get the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy.
He could renegotiate NAFTA so that the auto industry in this country doesn’t continue to be devastated.
He could support family farmers by ensuring government subsidies benefit them and not large corporate-run farms.
He could protect the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program from further cuts, so that low-income families, the elderly and the disabled pay don’t have to choose their heating bill over groceries.
He could ensure Wall Street doesn’t wipe out Main Street again, rather than rolling back regulations that were put in pass after the recession.
But he won’t do those things.
In Wisconsin, and across the country, Ryan and his colleagues have failed working families.
They’ve passed right-to-work laws, tried to take away the few healthcare protections we’ve won, and they’ve given billions in tax cuts to corporations and billionaires.
It’s time for a change.
That’s why I’m running for Congress, and it’s why I hope you’ll stand with your union and vote for labor candidates up and down the ballot this year.
We have to fight to protect our way of life.
Because if we don’t, then guys like Paul Ryan who haven’t built a damn thing in their entire lives will take it from us.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. And thank you for having me here.
Enjoy the Convention.