Remarks By Vice President Harris Highlighting The Administration’s Historic Investments In Our Workers
Durham Technical Community College
Durham, North Carolina
11:31 A.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. Good morning. Please have a seat. Good morning. Good morning.
Tara, I told you. We were hanging out in the — in the — in your classroom, and the Secretary and I were admiring your skill and your work. But to hear you speak at a podium like you just did — I know that you are a leader on many things. And truly, you are a face and an image of the future of labor in America and leadership in labor *. (Applause.) Very proud of you.
So, it’s good to see everyone here. And I have a lot to say about why we are here today, but before I get started, I do want to say a few words about the situation in Ukraine.
As we all know, the eyes of the world are on the brave people of Ukraine. They are fighting. They are fighting not just to defend their homes and their families, but to defend their democracy and their freedom, their sovereignty and their territorial integrity. And we stand with them. We stand with the people of Ukraine in this fight.
And we stand with our Allies and our partners on the side of knowing that we must always be vigilant in defending the ideals that we hold dear and in cherishing and supporting and strengthening our friendships and partnerships around the world based on shared ideals and principles.
And so, with that, we all, I know, express our thoughts and our prayers and well wishes to the people of Ukraine. (Applause.)
So, again, it is wonderful to be back in Durham. Governor, thank you always for introducing and welcoming me to this beautiful state of yours.
Mayor, congratulations. And thank you for your leadership. I look forward, and the President does as well, working with you on all that you are doing here.
To the congressmen, thank you both. I served, as many of you know, in the United States Senate for a few years, and I spent time, therefore, in the halls of Congress, in many, many meetings. And I can tell you about your two congressmen. Well, you probably can tell me more than I could tell you. (Laughter.)
But I will say is that I’ve seen them both hard at work, representing the people of North Carolina. And they are always fighting. (Applause.) So, it’s good to see you both. It’s good to see you both.
And to all of the state and locally elected officials, thank you. Thank you for your work.
It is good to be in the house of labor. It is good to be in the house of labor and to be back with the members of IBEW
and with all of our friends across the labor movement.
You know, over the year, I have visited many union apprenticeship facilities. And over the course of the last year and some months, my greatest privilege has been to do that with our Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh — (laughter and applause) — who is truly — has lived the life of being a proud, proud member of unions and labor and organized labor, and to be a proponent and a national leader for what is what we must always do: to fight for the integrity and the support of our unions.
And so, over the years, visiting all of these places, I have met workers of all ages and from all places, and they have many traits in common — among them tenacity, creativity, brilliants minds, and a relentless determination to get the job done right.
And that is what I saw here today when I was spending time in the classrooms here. We saw the extraordinary hard work and discipline that goes into the work that builds America.
And as you all, I hope, saw last night, President Joe Biden declared that the state of our union is strong. Yes, he did. It was a wonderful speech. It was an extraordinary speech, in terms of speaking to who we are as a nation and what we are prepared to fight for.
And since taking office, we have created six — over six and a half million jobs and lowered the unemployment rate to 4 percent. Our businesses have reopened their doors. And 99 percent of our schools are back in person. (Applause.)
As a nation, we have made real progress in our fight to end this pandemic and get our economy back to normal.
And with more than 215 million people vaccinated, our communities are more protected from this virus than they’ve ever been before.
And that said, the President and I know the fight is not yet won.
Over the past year, I have traveled the country and spoken with so many people — parents who lay in bed at night thinking about how they will pay the heating bill, fill the car with gas, or put food on the table; working people who are doing everything they can just to hold on but are still feeling like they’re falling behind; young people who are worried that the life they remember before this pandemic will never come back.
So many people in our country over these last couple of years — they’re tired and frustrated and afraid.
But, as I travel our nation, I will tell you, what I see most clearly is neither the fear nor the fatigue, but resilience — the resilience of the American people and the determination of the American people to always build a better future.
And so, the President and I, inspired by that, share in that determination, and we are fighting for a better future.
As the President explained last night, our fight starts with lowering the cost of living for working families. (Applause.)
As you all know, the pandemic — it has — well, it has tangled supply chains and driven up the price of everyday goods.
But through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, our administration has made historic investments in our infrastructure and in our supply chains to prevent those bottlenecks — those bottlenecks and to lower daily expenses.
We are also working hard to manufacture more goods — like cars, like computer chips — made by workers here in America.
And we must do more. Continue our recovery, we must. And to continue our recovery, we must then create more good-paying jobs here at home, good union jobs. (Applause.)
In big cities and small towns across our country, union workers are building the future. They are installing the solar panels and building the wind turbines that will help us bring down energy — energy costs, energy prices; and combat the climate crisis.
They are removing and replacing the lead pipes that are poisoning our children in so many communities.
They are laying the fiber-optic cable that will enable us to bring affordable high-speed Internet, North Carolina, to every household in America. (Applause.)
And they are building this better future in spite of historic attacks on workers’ rights.
As you know, in North Carolina and many places in our country, we still have a lot of work to do. Because, in many places in our country, there are still powerful forces that are hard at work, trying to build barriers to stop workers from organizing and exercising their right to collective bargaining.
But know this — know this — as Secretary Walsh explained and described: Our administration is deeply proud to be the most pro-labor administration in the history of our country. (Applause.)
And, as Vice President, as the Secretary described, I chair and he vice chairs the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment.
Our Task Force proposed nearly 70 actions that the executive branch can take — 70 — and this was over the course of many, many months of working with workers, working with labor unions, figuring out what was going on in our government, what is going on in reality, in terms of whether or not we are encouraging, under existing laws, or discouraging worker rights, worker protections.
And so we then developed these 70 proposals to protect the rights of workers in the public and private sector to make sure that workers are able to organize and bargain collectively.
And last month, the President accepted every one of the recommendations. (Applause.) But we’re not going to stop there.
Over the years, I have spoken with so many young people, women, people of color — hardworking folks who are training to become union workers.
And as the Secretary said, we see the potential for growth, in terms of the diversity, in terms of the inclusion, in terms of America’s workforce and our future.
And I met some of those great stars and leaders today, who, I believe, are all part of a new era of the American labor movement — a movement that you all helped build right here, which is why we are visiting with you this morning; a movement big enough to lift up people of every age, every walk of life, every race, every gender.
After all, every person should be able to benefit from the power of solidarity. Because every person in our nation, no matter where they start, deserves an opportunity to succeed.
That is the future we are fighting for. That is the future our administration stands for. And that is the future we will build with the help and with the leadership of union workers.
Thank you all. And take care. (Applause.) Thank you.
END 11:42 A.M. EST