Carpenters International Training Center
Las Vegas, Nevada
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Can we please hear it for Amber? (Applause.)
You know, she and I spent some time among the leaders who are here. We toured the facility. And we were just backstage, and she was sharing with me a bit about her life. And, you know, she didn’t have it easy growing up. But she talked about how the house of labor, how the men and women of labor saw in her what she knew was in herself and helped her achieve her capacity.
And she is an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary story, Amber — I’m talking about you — (laughter) — about how we form identity. And our identity doesn’t necessarily need to be formed based on the circumstances we had no control of. Our identity should be formed based on what we know we are capable of and the work we are determined to do, understanding the value of that hard work. Amber, I’m so proud of you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Well, hello, Nevada. It’s good to be back. (Laughs.) (Applause.) And it is so wonderful to be here with so many friends and leaders.
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto — as many of you know, she and I served together when she was Attorney General of Nevada and I was Attorney General of California, when we were fighting for homeowners around the foreclosure crisis. I knew her then and saw her work. I see her work in the United States Senate, when we served for four years there. And I’m going to tell you, I’ve seen her as a fighter when the cameras are on and when the cameras are off — always fighting for working people in Nevada.
Can we please hear it for Catherine Cortez Masto — (applause) — and Senator Jacky Rosen, my sister in the Senate — (applause); Congresswoman Susie Lee — (applause); Congressman Steven Horsford? (Applause.)
Thank you all for your leadership. And President Douglas McCarron, thank you. Vice President Frank Hawk. (Applause.) And the proud members of the United Brotherhood — and sisterhood — of Carpenters. (Laughs.) (Applause.)
So, it is so great to be in the house of labor. I always know I’m home in the house of labor. And it is great for us to all be able to spend part of this holiday weekend together.
And, of course, this weekend is the weekend where now, in particular, all across our nation, high school bands will march in parades and families will gather for backyard barbecues, and children will watch and wonder as fireworks light up our night sky, and we will celebrate together our nation’s independence.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) fireworks.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Indeed. (Laughs.) And this year, not only will we celebrate our independence, we will celebrate our nation’s resilience — because this year, America is coming back together; because this year, America is getting back to work. (Applause.)
And just yesterday, we learned that our economy created 850,000 jobs in June. Eight hundred and fifty thousand jobs in one month. (Applause.)
Over the past five months, we have created over 1.6 million jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries, which is so important, of course, here in Las Vegas. We have created over 3 million jobs total, and wages are going up for American workers. (Applause.)
And for so long — we’ve all talked together about the fact, right? — the cost of living kept going up, but wages remain stagnant. But we’re seeing that wages are going up, and that, as we know, means we are seeing progress.
And, you know, before President Joe Biden and I even took office, we knew that the American people were up against a whole lot. We saw how working people were struggling, including how this industry was getting hard hit by this pandemic — so hard hit.
And we made a decision, there and then, that our top priority would be to get you relief, to get working people relief, to get checks in pockets and tax credits in bank accounts. And with the help of this labor union, we delivered that relief. And I want to thank you, on behalf of the President and myself, for the work you did. (Applause.) And as any good carpenter would tell you, it’s not how you start the job, it’s how you finish. (Applause.)
So, I want you to know that the President and I are determined to keep going strong. And now that we have provided relief to the American people, we are looking to rebuild our nation, which is another thing carpenters know about.
Here in Nevada, there are 28 bridges in poor condition. There are more than 1,000 miles of highway in need of repair. And I don’t need to tell you this; you all know it. You drive on these roads every day.
There are people in this state who do not have access to affordable, high-speed Internet or who do not have clean drinking water coming out of their tap.
Carpenters work on infrastructure projects. You work on construction projects. You know that our infrastructure desperately needs an upgrade and an update. (Applause.) Right. And — and that’s the work you do. That’s the skill you have. That’s the gift you give — understanding that, and then being able to actually solve the problem if you have the support that you deserve to get the job done and to see it through.
So, the President and I are strongly backing the bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. It would be the largest long-term infrastructure investment in nearly a century in our country. It would be even bigger than the Hoover Dam. And it would create a whole lot of jobs for carpenters and joiners and tradespeople of all kinds.
Carpenters, we need your help. We need to get this framework across the finish line. We need to help folks understand what’s at stake, and understand that we have an opportunity as a nation right now to not just recover, not just to incrementally get better, but to leapfrog into where we not only need to be, but where we should be and where, most importantly, we can be.
And I want to be clear about the jobs we will create. You may have heard that the President and I are determined — determined to be the most pro-union administration in our nation’s history — (applause) — proudly. Proudly.
So the jobs we create through the bipartisan Infrastructure Framework are — you don’t need to guess — going to be good union jobs. (Applause.) Because — because — and you all know why — it’s just a reality. The reality is, when workers are heard, when unions are strong, our economy is strong, our nation is strong, our people are strong. It’s just a reality. So that’s where we stand.
We’re going to get this infrastructure deal done. We’re going to grow our unions and support working men and women in America. And we’re going to build — like the President likes to say, we’re going to build back better, understanding all that is at stake, and again, all that we can be.
Now, before I — I finish this conversation, I also want to address another reality — and I know that Senator Cortez Masto talked about this: If we want to keep growing our economy, we also need to get more folks vaccinated. (Applause.) We got to get more folks vaccinated. Okay?
And, you know, I talked to Governor Sisolak, and — and frankly, we got to do — we got to do better in Nevada, guys. We got to better in Nevada.
Over the past week, Nevada led the nation in new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions. They jumped in this state. And the governor has been working hard, but he needs the help. We need the help. And so, part of why I’m here is to ask the men and women of labor — the carpenters — to do what you know how to do to help us build the infrastructure around getting folks to get vaccinated.
Because here’s the thing that you should know — and I’m sure you do: Of these new patients, the numbers I just gave you, the vast majority who are hospitalized with COVID-19, they were not vaccinated. The vacc- — the vast majority of people who have died from COVID-19 were not vaccinated.
So, help us to urge folks and say to them, “Look, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get the shot.” And if you already have, let’s talk to somebody else we know who hasn’t, and let them know now is the time to get this done.
You know, the governor has helped set up a mobile vaccination unit right outside of here. And the bottom line is that getting vaccinated is safe, and it is — and I say this here — it is the ultimate act of solidarity. Right?
You know, we, I think, all embrace, whatever our background, the spirit of “love thy neighbor,” and getting vaccinated is truly an extension of that. And it’s about not only our neighbor next door; it’s about the man on the side of the street. It’s about seeing, in the face of a perfect stranger, a friend and interacting with them in that spirit.
So with that, let me end where I began: This weekend, we will celebrate America coming back together. And next week, we will get back to work building up America. And I am confident we will get that done. Because as tough as this year has been and last year was, America is tougher. At every twist and turn, in ways big and small, Americans have shown incredible strength and incredible kindness and incredible resilience. I see it every day.
And I’ll end with this — I want to share with you a quick story: So, one of my last visits here to — to Las Vegas — in fact, it was back in March — I visited a food distribution center, and I met folks who were there. In particular, I spent some time with the volunteers who were working at the food distribution center, some of whom had lost their jobs, others who had not, but they were all volunteering.
And — and so, at the food distribution center, folks who were in need of — of support, they could drive up and get a box of food to feed their families. And all they had to do is to drive up and then to pop open their trunk. You know, for safety reasons, there was no physical interaction between the volunteer and the driver, and they could pop open their trunk so a volunteer could put the box safely inside.
And the volunteers were telling me about how it was often the case that the trunk will pop open, and in this empty trunk, the volunteer — you remember this, Steve — the volunteer would see a handwritten note where the occupants of the note had written in handwriting, “Thank you for your labor, for your work, for your kindness.”
Sometimes the volunteers shared with me the trunk would pop open and there would be a $5 bill from a person who lost everything, from a person who didn’t have much of anything to spare or give. That is who we are as the American people — a nation of people who show grace, even in times of crisis; a nation that is there for one another; a nation that is strong for one another.
So, let us honor that nation today, tomorrow, and every day. Happy Fourth of July, everybody. May God bless you. And may God bless America. (Applause.)