Arizona has a long been the site of many uphill battles for workers. But that is changing, and voters there have an opportunity to speed that transition along by electing Mark Kelly as their next senator.
The retired astronaut and husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords told Arizona Teamsters during a virtual town hall Friday night that Congress has let workers down in its failure to address the coronavirus pandemic and the economic fallout that has followed. Change, he said, is needed to ensure this nation can get back on its feet again.
Kelly pointed out that the country was dependent on the work done by some 1 million essential Teamster workers including those working each day for UPS as well as those delivering groceries, goods and in construction so millions of other Americans could stay safe during these times.
“I want to thank your membership for putting yourself out there in harms way because it effects your families, and I think the nation owes a debt of gratitude to your members,” he told those on the call.
It is an upbringing he is familiar with, given he is the son of two union police officers. Kelly said when his mother was injured on the job, the union was there to help her.
Those are values he will bring to the U.S. Senate. He pledged to work across party lines to push legislation that will help working Arizonans, as well as those out of work. He noted that 440,000 people had lost their job during the pandemic and they are currently trying to live on $240 a week in state unemployment. “That math doesn’t work for anybody,” he said.
He is equally sympathetic for workers and retirees when it comes to pension security. “These are earned benefits that millions of people across the country … have earned from a lifetime of hard work,” Kelly said. “And I’m not going to let some politicians in Washington, D.C. take away these earned benefits. They need to be protected.”
Dawn Schumann, Teamsters Local 104’s political coordinator, said Kelly would be the advocate workers deserve on Capitol Hill. “We need senators who will champion Teamster causes,” she said.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said Kelly needs the strong support of the Teamsters to succeed. “We have a lot of work to do. Mark Kelly is doing his job and is ready to go. But the hard part now is are the Teamsters doing their job?
“Arizona Teamsters have a lot to do,” Hoffa continued. “We have great members out in Arizona and I know you are ready to do that.”