My name is Jill Biden. I am the First Lady of the United States. And I’m a proud, card-carrying union member.
So it’s an honor to join all of you for this celebration of America’s workers—your resilience, your leadership, the hard-won progress you’ve made, and the unions that made it all possible.
You are the backbone of this country.
I know that, and my husband—the most pro-union, pro-worker president of our lifetime—knows that too.
That’s why unions are at the center of Joe’s vision to build our economy “from the bottom up and the middle out.”
This isn’t just a slogan to him. It’s personal.
When Joe was growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, his dad had to sit him down and say the words no one wants to say to their child: “I’m sorry. I can’t find work and we can’t live here anymore.”
He thinks about that moment to this day: The guilt that his father must have felt when they had to uproot their lives. The pain of admitting to his children that no matter how hard he tried, it just wasn’t enough.
Joe’s father used to say: A job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity.
Joe saw how a job could change a family’s path.
And I saw it too. My dad came from a family of Italian immigrants. His father delivered furniture for a living. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, my dad was able to go to school and carve out a good life for my four sisters and me.
Things like unemployment rates and jobs created aren’t just numbers to us. They represent people—families like Joe’s when he was growing up. Like mine. Maybe like yours.
President Biden and I understand the middle class because we’re from the middle class. And unions—you—built the middle class.
And that’s why Joe is fighting for unions, so workers can fight for what they need: Better pay. Safer working conditions. Flexibility and healthcare.
That way, when they step onto the construction site or into the classroom or fire station, they can do their best work for their communities.
Now hopefully, you’ve been hearing about Bidenomics—Joe’s vision that has transformed our economy:
— more than 13 million jobs created;
— unemployment under four percent;
— hundreds of billions invested to rebuild our bridges and roads;
— and growing industries like clean energy and manufacturing.
A job is more than a paycheck. It’s a path—a way to build the lives you want. And get the jobs you deserve.
Thank you for everything you do so the workers you represent get that chance.
I’m grateful to be joined here today by Senator Durbin who has been a great partner and friend to Joe and me over the years.
And it is so wonderful to see Representatives Schakowsky, Ramirez, and Garcia. The people of Illinois are so lucky to have this dynamic group in Washington fighting for them.
I also want to thank Governor Pritzker, Mayor Johnson, and the other incredible elected leaders here. You are fierce advocates for labor across this state. Thank you all for your work and your partnership.
And Bob, Don, and the entire CFL leadership, you put so much heart and hard work into this organization, and into protecting Chicago’s workers.
All of you do.
I know it isn’t always easy. But you do this work because it’s who you are. You’re advocates. You’re organizers. You’re union members!
You stand together and fight for the communities you care about. And you never give up.
Joe and I stand with you, today, tomorrow, and for all the days to come.
Chicago is—and will always be—union strong because of you.