MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Sen. Bernie Sanders gave the keynote speech at an AFL-CIO Labor Day breakfast on Labor Day, before holding rallies in White River Junction and Middlebury, where he singled out Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for not paying his employees more.
“We have one person who’s wealth is increasing by $250 million every single day, while he pays thousands of his workers wages that are so low that they are forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid, and subsidized housing,” Sanders said.
The busy day came as Sanders touted a big primary win by Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, a progressive Democrat who received a strong endorsement from Sanders, who appeared at several Gillum rallies leading up to last week’s primary.
On Labor Day, Sanders took the opportunity to address the Vermont workforce.
“The reality is that the average American worker is still seeing a decline in his and her wages,” Sanders said. “People continue to work longer hours for low wages. Here in Vermont, folks are working two or three jobs to put food on the table and pay bills.”
Other Vermont Democrats were on hand as well, including Rep. Peter Welch, Lt. Gov. Dave Zuckerman, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Christine Hallquist, who echoed Sanders’ economic message.
“Today is Labor Day, and one of my messages is about the fact that the working class hasn’t received a real raise since the early ’80s,” Hallquist said. “When I talk about economic growth, I’m talking about focusing on the bottom 20 percent of the economic ladder.”
With Election Day fast approaching, Sanders and other speakers also turned their attention to November, perhaps offering a preview on the Democrats’ message heading into the fall.
Sanders told supporters the goal for his 2018 re-election bid is “to make certain that in 2018, we have the largest voter turnout in any midterm election in the history of our state.”
Rep. Welch said the election has national implications.
“We have a vote to take away that rubber stamp that Paul Ryan is using to validate these terrible things that the President is doing, and we are going to do it,” Welch said.
Sanders also took to Twitter to reflect on the holiday:
The trade union movement has led the fight for equal rights and economic and social justice. Today, Labor Day, we reflect on those struggles, and pledge our support to protecting workers’ rights and building an economy based on human needs, not corporate greed.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) September 3, 2018