Grievance strike hits AT&T West; workers demand a fair contract

Seventeen thousand AT&T West technicians and call center workers returned to work on March 23 after participating in a grievance strike that affected AT&T’s communication services in California and Nevada.

The grievance strike was called by Communication Workers of America (CWA) District 9 to protest the company’s efforts to expand the duties of premise technicians.

Premise technicians install and maintain AT&T’s U-Verse television and internet service, but last July, the company issued a document requiring them to perform work done by higher paid service technicians who maintain and repair telephone and cable lines.

“We went on strike to demonstrate to the country that we will not do more work for less pay, especially when it puts us in a position not to deliver the best possible service,” said Robert Longer, a member of CWA Local 9421 in Sacramento, California.

The strike lasted one day and ended after the company agreed to rescind the document requiring premise technicians to perform expanded job duties.

“Our grievance strike was a success,” read a statement issued by CWA District 9. “Our premise technicians will no longer be required to work outside of the scope of the their duties.”

The scope of premise technicians’ duties has been one of the sticking points keeping AT&T and the union from reach a fair agreement on a new contract.

The union and AT&T West have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for more than a year.

The current agreement expired in April 2016, but the two sides have continued to negotiate.

When the company in July attempted to circumvent the bargaining process and unilaterally expanded the scope of premise technician duties, union members filed a number of grievances to prevent the expansion.

The union was negotiating with the company to resolve the grievance, but the negotiations broke down.

In a statement explaining the reason for the strike, the union said that AT&T disrespected the bargaining process and “reneged on an agreement to resolve the (premise technician) dispute without any explanation.”

“We are on strike today because AT&T is hurting us all by violating their bargaining obligations with the union,” said Robinson Paiz, a maintenance splicer from Los Angeles.  “We don’t want to let our customers down, but AT&T left us with no other choice. AT&T needs to get serious and honor its contract with us so we can keep servicing our customers.”

The union and its members are hoping that the grievance strike will make it clear to AT&T that they are serious about negotiating a fair new collective bargaining agreement.

There are other contract issues that have yet to be resolved.

Union members want to keep their health care benefits intact without the cuts proposed by the company; they want the company to hire more workers to deal with the chronic under  staffing; and they want to protect their jobs against offshoring.

AT&T has outsourced thousands of call center jobs abroad to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines.

AT&T recently closed its largest call center in Oakland, leaving those who remain on the job nervous about their futures.

“The fact that AT&T has moved a lot of jobs (abroad) has hurt a lot of us here in the United States,” said one California call center worker. “I talk to my children a lot about Mommy not being employed anymore.”

“When they get rid of the jobs in our communities it affects a lot of other businesses in the communities,” said another California call center worker.

Union members also want the company to hire more workers. “We’re short staffed,” said another AT&T worker.

Short staffing is causing workers to work a lot of forced overtime.

“Forced overtime can happen anytime, and any day,” said another AT&T worker. “You can’t make plans in the evening because you don’t know what time you’re going to get off.”

Forced overtime is also interfering with family life. Workers miss special events like birthday parties for family members and everyday events like spending time with their children.

Short staffing, forced overtime, health care cuts, outsourcing, and the expansion of the scope of premise technicians’ work are all the results of AT&T attempts to cut labor costs.

These cuts aren’t coming at a time when ATT&T is struggling.

In fact, AT&T makes a billion a month in profits and its CEO Randall Stephenson received $28.4 million in compensation for 2016, a 13 percent increase over the previous year.

But the company is getting pressure from its Wall Street investors to reduce labor costs so more of the wealth created by the company’s workers can go to investors.

“While AT&T is extremely profitable, the company has become disconnected from the day to day issues facing workers and customers,” said a statement issued by CWA. “Despite the financial success, the company is asking its workers to do more for less — keeping them from their families with unpredictable overtime, undercutting pay and advancement, offshoring good jobs, and pushing more health care costs onto employees. At the same time, customers are paying increasingly higher bills to AT&T for essential services.”

AZ Supreme Court backs voters on raising minimum wage

The Arizona Supreme Court on March 14 upheld the state’s new minimum wage and paid sick leave law by  unanimously rejecting a lawsuit filed by the law’s opponents.

The new law, which took effect in January, raises the state’s minimum wage from $8.05 an hour to $10 an hour. More raises will follow until the minimum wage reaches $12 an hour in 2020. After that, future raises will be tied to increases in the cost of living.

The new law also requires businesses to give employees at least three paid sick days a year.

Because of the new law, more than 800,000 of Arizona’s 2.5 million workers will get pay raises by 2020.

Arizona voters in November voted in a statewide referendum on the Fair Wages and Health Families Initiative, or Proposition 2016, which called for raising the state’s minimum wage and providing paid sick leave to all workers.

58 percent of them voted “yes” for Proposition 206.

Despite Proposition 206’s widespread support among voters, right wing groups led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry filed suit to block implementation of the law.

After hearing that the court had rejected the chamber’s suit, supporters of the Proposition 206 held a media conference where they welcomed the good news.

“We’re so very happy that the Arizona Supreme Court decided for the will of the voters and not for special interests,” said Tomas Robles, executive director of  Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA), which organized the campaign that got Proposition 206 on the ballot and the eventual referendum victory.

The successful campaign began more than a year ago, said Alejandra Gomez, co-director of LUCHA.

“We started this battle over a year ago, and were able to show that when the community comes together we can have a victory,” said Gomez. “We came together. We collected signatures on petitions. We talked to thousands of voters to let them know that this referendum would mean a pay increase in their salaries.”

The first step toward getting the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Initiative on the ballot was to gather 150,642 signatures of registered voters on a ballot petition.

Supporters of the initiative gathered 271,000 signatures.

The petitions were submitted in July to the secretary of state, who reviewed the petitions, determined that there were enough valid  signatures, and added the initiative to the November ballot.

LUCHA organized its members and supporters to knock on doors and talk directly to voters about raising the minimum wage and providing paid sick days to all workers.

The effort to win voter support also included direct mailings, television ads, and a digital media campaign.

The Chamber of Commerce tried twice to keep the initiative off the ballot.

In August a trial judge rejected the chamber’s suit to deny voters the opportunity to vote on the initiative. Two weeks later, the state Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision by rejecting the chamber’s appeal.

When voters went to the polls in November, they overwhelmingly supported Proposition 206.

It garnered 1,195,027 votes, more than Sen. John McCain (1,089,324 votes), who won the state’s US Senate race, and Donald Trump ( 1,021,154 votes) who won the state’s presidential electoral college vote.

The new minimum wage increase means that workers like Rosa Maria Padilla received big pay raises in January, some by as much as $1.95 an hour.

Padilla is a care giver to the elderly and to children with special needs.

“In December the company that I work for told us that we would be getting a pay raise thanks to Proposition 206,” said Padilla in Spanish through a translator.

Padilla, a member of LUCHA, added that the fight for a fair and livable wage isn’t over.

LUCHA and other worker groups will continue to fight for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

“This won’t be the last we hear about raising the minimum wage,” said Padilla. “We’re going to keep fighting.”

Idaho silver miners to protect hard won gains

Two hundred forty-six Idaho miners on January 17 voted unanimously to continue their strike at the Lucky Friday silver mine in Mullan, Idaho.

The mine is owned by the Hecla Mining Company, which owns silver and other precious metal mines in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Hecla is headquartered in nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The strike began on March 13 after miners voted to strike when they learned that the company planned to implement portions of its contract proposal that miners rejected in January.

The miners are members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5114.

The contract that the union members rejected included a number of concessions.

“The miners consider this offer to be a slap in the face,” said Steve Powers, USW District 12 staff representative to the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review. “A lot of them have been here for 15-plus years. They made it through the hard times already.”

The miners, instead, want to hold onto to gains that they’ve won since the local was organized in 1970.

“We’re asking to basically keep things the way they are,” said Local 5114 member Rick Norman to the Spokesman-Review.

In a letter written to the Shoshone News-Press, Norman describes some of the concessions that Hecla is demanding.

Norman writes that the company has offered to increase base pay, but its pay raise is offset by steep increases in health insurance premiums, co-pays, and deductibles that could increase from year to year.

Even worse, the company wants to reduce the workers’ silver price premium, essentially a bonus that, according to Norman “is a big player in our annual bottom line.”

The company also wants to reduce recall rights to three months, which means that no matter how long miners have worked for the company, they wouldn’t be guaranteed a job if they were laid off for three months or longer.

Norman goes on:

The job progression plan (Hecla) has offered is just a way of giving more power and control to management so they can mix and match people when and where they want at their discretion. The bid system we have now is considered the cornerstone of any union and without it our voice in the workplace is greatly silenced. This system has been labeled “outdated” by (Hecla). This system has broken production records time and time again throughout the years, and a big reason for that is the “ownership of responsibility” that comes with the team that is picked by labor. There is a lot of pride and competition between teams and this is only a good and productive thing for labor and management. To discard this bidding system, in my opinion, would be a huge mistake pertaining to production and safety.

As if these concession demands weren’t enough, the company also wants to reduce vacation days.

Hecla’s concession demands come at a time when business is good.

“We finished 2016 strongly, with record silver and silver equivalent production for the year and robust performance at all our mines driving record sales, strong net income and more than doubling adjusted EBITDA over last year,” said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Hecla’s president and CEO, in a message to investors.

Hecla’s demands for concessions during what Baker describes as a year of “robust performance” is emblematic of a problem that the working class as a whole is facing: corporations are seeking ways to lower labor costs even as they prosper in order to extract an even greater share of the wealth that workers are helping to create.

Other unionized workers seem to understand that Hecla’s overreaching concession demands aren’t just a threat to the Lucky Friday miners, they’re a threat to all workers.

We are getting calls of support and financial pledges from across the country from various local unions,” writes Phil Epler on the union’s Facebook page. “I would like to recognize Brad Toland and his fellow members out of Ironworkers local 86 in Seattle for donating $500 to our hardship fund. I also received a call from Rick Olson out of Machinist local 86 Spokane. He and some of their members are heading over to attend the spaghetti feed at the Sunshine Inn tomorrow at 6 pm. There will also be a silent auction at the dinner with all proceeds going to our hardship fund.

The spaghetti dinner and silent auction raised more than $2100 for the strikers’ hardship fund.

The striking miners also received a message of support from miners in Mexico.

The National Executive Committee of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic, and all of its members . . .send a message of support and solidarity to all of the workers at the Lucky Friday Mine who are on strike today, writes Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president and general secretary of the union. We support your courageous decision to strike and we encourage you to unite to fight and resist . We hope that soon Hecla Mining Co. will be willing to listen, to negotiate and to reach an agreement that respects your working conditions and is fair to all parties. The Mexican Mineworkers stand with you!


Unions: Trumpcare hurts workers; enriches the already rich

The Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was filed in Congress on March 6.

The official title of the Republican bill is the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but D. Taylor, president of UNITE HERE, is calling the new bill “Trumpcare.”

When the bill was introduced, labor unions condemned it as a gift to the rich paid for by the working class.

One week after the bill was introduced, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis of Trumpcare. The CBO analysis confirms that the unions are right.

The New York Times reports that according to the CBO analysis, Trumpcare cuts taxes on the wealthy and corporations by $1 trillion over the next ten years.

Those taxes help pay for federal subsidies that made health insurance affordable for many workers.

Trumpcare eliminates the subsidies, putting affordable health care out of reach for millions of workers.

It also reduces Medicaid funding by $880 billion and caps the growth of future funding. The reduction and cap will cause millions of low-income workers to lose Medicaid coverage.

“This isn’t a health care plan, it’s a shameful handout to corporations and the wealthy paid by working families who will pay for the tax cuts with less coverage,” said Chris Shelton, president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) when the bill was first introduced.

“President Trump and the Republican Party ran on a promise to immediately repeal the ‘broken’ Affordable Care Act and replace it with something ‘great’,” said Taylor. “Instead, what was unveiled by House Republicans is a plan that slashes health care coverage for millions of Americans.”

Taylor made his statement before the CBO released its analysis.

If anything Taylor may have underestimated the number of people who will lose coverage.

The CBO analysis states that the Trumpcare will cause 24 million people to lose health care coverage over the next ten years. Fourteen million will lose coverage within a year of its passage.

One reason that workers will lose health care insurance is that Trumpcare eliminates Obamacare subsidies for purchasing health insurance and replaces it with tax credits.

But the Trumpcare tax credits are less generous than Obamacare subsidies and don’t increase as the price of health insurance increases.

Additionally, Trumpcare would allow insurance companies to charge older workers much more than younger workers, but  tax credits for older workers will be the same as younger workers.

Trumpcare would also phase out the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, which made Medicaid available to many more low-income workers.

Trumpcare also changes the nature of Medicaid, which would no longer be a government benefit for workers who meet certain income requirements.

Instead, the federal government would provide grants to states. The states would determine eligibility rules and the level of benefits.

If the federal grant does not cover the cost of everyone who is eligible, benefits would be rationed. Some would get them; others wouldn’t.

“Trumpcare will gut Medicaid expansion and subsidies that have made lifesaving health care available to millions of Americans,” said Taylor.

Trumpcare could also cause employers to drop health insurance benefits for their workers.

Forbes reports that up to 7 million workers could lose their employer-based insurance benefit because of Trumpcare.

One of the reasons that workers may lose their employer-based health care benefit is that Trumpcare maintains the Obamacare excise tax, a 40 percent tax on employer-based health insurance whose premium costs exceed the national average of health care premium costs.

The high cost of the excise tax could cause some employers to drop employee health care insurance. Others may cut benefits to avoid the tax.

The excise tax would  especially hurt union workers, who through years of struggle have won good, affordable employer-based health care insurance.

By maintaining the excise tax, Trumpcare “will drive up already skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs and drive down coverage for the vast majority of Americans under age 65—more than 177 million—who get health insurance through work,” said Taylor.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), also joined the chorus of union leaders criticizing the anti-working class nature of Trumpcare.

“The principal effect of the new bill will be the loss of existing health coverage for tens of millions of people, without any restraints on health care industry pricing practices that add up to massive health insecurity for the American people.” writes DeMoro writing for Common Dreams.

Health care in the US can’t be fixed, continued DeMoro until “our broken, dysfunctional, profit-focused health care system (is replaced by) an improved Medicare for all system,” which would expand Medicare so that it covers everybody.

DeMoro writes that NNU is building grassroots support for a single-payer health care plan like Medicare in the state of California “that could become the national model (for) an alternative to both the ACA and the fraudulently named GOP American Health Care Act.”


Workers lose wage and safety protections

Two Obama-era rules aimed at protecting workers’ health and safety and protecting them from wage law violations have been put on hold.

One of the rules called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule went into effect in August. It required companies bidding on federal contracts to disclose past wage and safety law violations.

The Republican-controlled Senate on March 6 voted to overturn the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace rule.

The Senate vote was preceded by a similar vote in the House of Representatives. Legislation overturning the rule now goes to President Trump for his signature.

The other rule, which the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued in January, protected workers from on-the-job exposure to toxic beryllium dust.

It was to go into effect in March.

But the Trump administration in February delayed its implementation and returned it to the Labor Department for further review.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule requires federal agencies to consider a company’s past record on complying with wage and safety laws when determining whether to award contracts to the company.

Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, said that the rule is needed because too many companies that have been awarded government contracts are breaking laws meant to protect workers.

“Though its impact on employers is minimal, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule is important both because federal contractors employ one in five of America’s workers and because many businesses with the most serious workplace violations continue to be awarded federal contracts,” said Owens.

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently issued a report detailing the pervasiveness of wage and safety violations among federal contractors.

According to the report, 66 of the 100 hundred biggest federal contractors “have been caught breaking federal labor laws.”

The report also finds that the top ten federal contractors have committed 64,590 wage law violations since 2005. As a result of those violations, the same companies paid a total $64.4 million in back wages to compensate workers for the violations.

Wage violations aren’t the only problem. “Too often federal contracts are awarded to companies that put workers in serious danger,” states the senator’s report.

“Of the largest 100 penalties imposed by OSHA since January 2015, more than a third were issued to companies that have held federal contracts within the last decade,” continues the report.

In some cases the violations that caused the penalties were lethal. For example, Goodyear Tire and Rubber recently agreed to pay $1.75 million in penalties to settle charges of safety violations that caused the death of four workers at the Goodyear plant in Danville, Virginia between August 2015 and August 2016.

Prior to the rule being issued, Goodyear was awarded $8.3 million in government contracts in 2016 alone.

The Obama administration passed another rule to protect workers safety when OSHA issued new regulations reducing workers’ exposure to beryllium dust.

Beryllium is a light, high strength metal used in the aerospace, defense, consumer products, and construction industries.

More than 62,000 workers work at jobs that expose them to beryllium dust, which when inhaled can cause a serious respiratory disease. It has also been linked to lung cancer.

The rules require employers to provide breathing equipment to workers exposed to beryllium dust and to measure and monitor the levels of beryllium dust at work sites.

When the beryllium rules were enacted in January, the United Steelworkers (USW), whose membership includes thousands of workers who work with the toxic metal, praised the new rules and said that  beryllium protection was long overdue.

“This has been a long time in the making,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard when the new rule was announced in January. “The USW has advocated for an OSHA rule since the early 1970s. This rule will protect workers who are exposed to beryllium in general industry, construction and shipyards and ensure that controls are put in place to prevent future occupational illness from developing.”

USW reports that OSHA first proposed a beryllium standard  in 1975, but political pressure forced cancellation of the rule making process.  In 2012, USW collaborated with Materion Brush, the world’s largest beryllium producer, to draft beryllium standards that the union and company presented to OSHA.

Those standards became the basis for the new rules

Michael Wright,  USW director of Health, Safety and Environment, called the new rule,  “a strong, protective worker health rule.”

But the rule might have been too strong and too protective for the Trump administration, which delayed its implementation and instructed its Labor Department to reassess the rule.

Fortune reports that the delay and further review of the rule could result in extensive changes the rule or, more likely, its revocation.


Tentative agreement with AT&T creates good-paying union jobs

A new tentative agreement between the Communication Workers of America District 6 (CWA) and AT&T creates 3000 new good-paying union jobs.

The tentative agreement covers 20,000 AT&T union workers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Most of the 3000 new union jobs had previously been outsourced to other countries; others had been outsourced to US contractors who pay their workers less than union wages and benefits.

Union members must still ratify the tentative agreement. The union will hold a town hall teleconference on March 9 to provide details about the agreement to members.

A summary of the agreement is available on the CWA District 6 website.

The date of the ratification vote has yet to be scheduled.

In addition to creating 3000 new jobs, the new agreement raises pay by 10.75 percent over the next four years. Pay increases by 3 percent in 2017, 2.5 percent in 2018, 3 percent in 2019, and 2.25 percent in 2020.

Pay increases are offset somewhat by increased worker health care costs. According to the union, take home pay will increase despite the higher health care costs.

The tentative agreement also includes for the first time two weeks of paid leave for parents to bond with a new born or adopted child. Mothers will continue to receive six weeks of paid leave after the birth of a child.

The 3000 new jobs are largely call center jobs that had been outsourced abroad.

Bringing these jobs back home bucks a trend. For years now, companies have been moving call center jobs abroad in order to reduce labor costs.

Outsourcing call center work hurts workers who lose their jobs and many others.

According to a report on call center offshoring published by CWA,

As US companies offshore and outsource call center jobs, communities lose. In many communities, the loss of a call center means the loss of a pillar of the local economy. In many cases, because of the intense pressure from cheaper, less regulated foreign operators, when companies export US jobs, they also exert downward pressure on wages and working conditions at home.

In hopes of reversing the offshoring trend in the call center industry, CWA is supporting the US Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, which was introduced into both the US House of Representatives and Senate on March 2.

“This call center legislation is just common sense,” said Jennifer Szpara, a CWA member who works for Verizon. “It would help keep good call center jobs here in the US. It would give customers who are connected to an overseas call center the right to be transferred back to the US. And it would mean that companies that do send good jobs overseas wouldn’t be rewarded with taxpayer-funded grants and loans. It’s a win for customers, workers, our communities, and our employer.”

Sen. Brown: “It’s not businesses who drive the economy –it’s workers”

In a speech given at Columbus, Ohio, US Senator Sherrod Brown unveiled a plan for addressing the lack of wage growth in the US economy.

“Hard work doesn’t pay off like it used to,” said Brown. “Wages and benefits have declined or stagnated for American workers for decades. People earn less, people can’t save for retirement, and people feel less stable–all while working harder and producing more than ever before. We need to update our economic policies, our retirement policies, and our labor laws to reflect today’s reality.”

Brown’s plan, entitled “Working too Hard for too Little: A Plan for Restoring the Value of Work in America,” calls for enacting legislation that:

  • raises wages and benefits
  • makes it easier for workers to join unions
  • provides new ways of saving for retirement and
  • encourages more companies to invest in their workforce.

We need to change the way we think about the American economy,” said Brown. “It’s not businesses who drive the economy –it’s workers. We grow the economy from the middle class out. If work isn’t valued, Americans can’t earn their way to a better life for their families–no matter how hard they work. And without a strong, growing middle class to consume goods and services, our economy simply can’t grow.”

Brown’s plan calls for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and expanding the number of people eligible to receive overtime pay.

Expanding overtime payments would raise pay for millions of middle-income workers.

Brown said that Kevin Gee, one of his constituents, is an example of a worker who would benefit from expanding overtime benefits.

Gee works about 50 or 60 hours a week, makes about $40,000 a year, but because of the way that he is classified by his employer, Gee isn’t paid time and one-half for the hours he works above the standard 40-hour work week.

Brown’s plan extends overtime coverage to workers like Gee.

In his speech, Brown said that the nature of work is changing, but labor standards aren’t keeping up with these changes.

“More businesses use temp workers and contractors and subcontractors–and they pay lower wages and provide less job security, fewer benefits, and fewer legal protections,” said Brown.

Brown’s plan would extend more protections to temporary workers and punish employers who misclassify employees to avoid paying standard benefits such as social security, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance.

Another way that the nature of work is changing is that more workers are working in the service sector.

These service sector jobs for the most part are low-wage jobs.

One of the surest ways to raise wages is for workers to form unions and bargain together for better pay and benefits, but unionization in the service sector is quite low.

Service sector unionization is low because when workers do try to form unions, their bosses often use fear and intimidation to prevent them from doing so. When workers do form unions, bosses use legal technicalities to delay bargaining with workers.

“We need to update our labor laws to ensure that workers trying to form unions don’t face discrimination, and that companies aren’t able to tie up unionization efforts in legal challenges,” said Brown. “Modernizing our labor laws means recognizing the right of all workers–even those in alternative work arrangements–to collectively bargain for higher pay and better benefits.”

Brown also said that companies that pay poverty wages that make their workers eligible for government assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid should pay a penalty.

“My plan creates a Corporate Freeloader Fee, for all corporations whose pay is so low that taxpayers are forced to subsidize their workers,” said Brown. “It’s simple–if you choose to pay your workers so little that they are disproportionately forced onto government assistance, then you need to reimburse American taxpayers. This will save taxpayers money, and give companies an added incentive to invest in one of their greatest resources: their human capital.”

On the other hand, Brown’s plan rewards employers that do the right thing.

“My plan would give companies a tax break when they commit to staying in the US, to hiring in the US, and to providing good wages and fair benefits for workers,” said Brown.

Brown said that his plan carries some cost for corporations, but he asked, “what about the cost of not raising wages? We’ve seen what years of stagnant wages and a fraying safety net have cost our country and its millions of workers.”

Brown called for universal solutions to the wage stagnation problem, not individual solutions that target niche sectors.

My plan is aimed at making “life better for all workers. Every single one of them,” said Brown. “That is the heart of populism. Populism is for the people–not these people, or those people, but all people. It is not about appealing to some by pushing others down. It’s about lifting everyone up.”