During a conference call with thousands of activists Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden joined Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in commending union protesters for standing up to Republicans across the country.
"You guys built the middle class," Biden said during the "virtual town hall" conversation hosted by the AFL-CIO. "I would just emphasize what Hilda [Solis] said and say it slightly different: We don't see the value of collective bargaining, we see the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining.
"Let's get something straight," he continued. "The only people who have the capacity -- organizational capacity and muscle -- to keep, as they say, the barbarians from the gate, is organized labor. And make no mistake about it, the guys on the other team get it. They know if they cripple labor, the gate is open, man. The gate is wide open. And we know that too."
Biden also recognized the union activists for being a driving force behind his own political career. "I've got to state the obvious," he said. "There's an old expression: 'You go home with them that brung you to the dance.' You guys all brought me to the dance 36 years ago in Delaware as a United States senator. You've been with me, and I've stayed with you."
In a more impassioned plea, Biden criticized conservatives for their "orgy" of greed, which he claimed led to the recent economic downturn.
"I find this ridiculous," he said. "The very philosophy, the very conservative people who got us in this ditch, who created -- through their greed -- this orgy of focusing on the super wealthy and Wall Street without regulations, the very people who drove us into this ditch, are now the people using you guys as the scapegoats. This is what you call blaming the victim. The people of the neighborhoods we all grew up in and you guys live in, organized labor, they're the very people getting killed right now by this economy. And the audacity these guys that come along and say, 'Hey, this is the fault of collective bargaining' -- that is malarkey."
"I'm available, I'm here, I'm working with you, I wish I could be even more effective than we've been, but this is only the beginning of the fight," he concluded.