Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses AFL-CIO convention

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks Sunday at the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks Sunday at the quadrennial AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles.
(Ricardo Lopez / Los Angeles Times)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) urged labor leaders Sunday to prepare for an uphill battle as they seek to strengthen the labor movement, beat back “powerful interests” and enact financial reform.

Warren made a speech at the quadrennial convention of the AFL-CIO, which kicked off Sunday in Los Angeles. The labor federation’s convention has brought together traditional union groups with new, progressive allies such as the Sierra Club and the NAACP.

Warren, the freshman senator and newest member of the Senate Banking Committee, voiced her support for the labor movement, which has seen its political power wane in recent years as union membership has dropped.


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“In every fight to build opportunity in this country ... in every fight for working families, we have been on the front lines because our agenda is America’s agenda,” Warren said.

“But let’s be clear, we have always had to run uphill,” she said. “Powerful interests have done everything they can to block reform. They attacked Social Security and Medicare. They attacked pensions and public employees. They attacked bank regulation and consumer protection.”

Labor leaders, which helped Warren in her election bid, have praised the senator for her strong stance against Wall Street and support for consumer protections.

Full coverage: The AFL-CIO in Los Angeles

In her brief address, Warren also stumped for the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a bill she and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and two other senators introduced in July. The bill is a modern version of the Banking Act of 1933 and would separate traditional banks from riskier financial institutions.


“When a new approach is proposed – like my bill with John McCain, Angus King, and Maria Cantwell to bring back Glass-Steagall – you know what happens – they throw everything they’ve got against it,” she said.

Warren, who received rock star treatment with a standing ovation when she took the stage and at the conclusion of her remarks, did not plan to stay at the convention for the week.

She’s returning to Washington late Sunday to participate in Senate action on a possible U.S. strike on Syria.


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