US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says a strong American economy depends on a strong middle class.She spoke in favor of protecting collective bargaining and union rights at the 20th Ernest A. buddy Mass Human Relations Conference Monday.

“Workers deserve respect and a seat at the bargaining table,” she says.

Solis said America is slowly becoming a country where the top one percent is getting wealthier, as the middle class struggles to pay its bills.

She cited labor attacks in Ohio and Wisconsin as states where the middle class is fighting hard to protect its rights and future.

Inclusiveness and diversity all have to be apart of the discussion if America truly wants the middle class to prosper, she says.

“There is a lot of pride being one of you (wearing that uniform),” she says. “A lot of people are excited to join your team, but there are a lot of people who are trying turn the clock back to where it was 40 years ago.”