Boston Park Plaza Hotel
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning. (Applause.) Good morning. Oh, it is always good to be in the house of labor. Good morning, good morning, good morning.
I said to Darlene, you really packed the house, man. Look at this. Look at this. Happy Labor Day, everybody. Happy Labor Day. (Applause.)
Darlene, I want to thank you because we’ve had some time to talk about your leadership and the work you have done your entire working career. And I just want to thank you for being such a dedicated leader for the working people of Boston and of America. (Applause.)
And I want to thank the Greater Boston Labor Council, the Greater Boston Building Trades, everyone here, all the workers who spoke this morning. I want to thank you for your leadership and being such a clear and powerful voice for the working people of America. You are powerful. You are powerful. And we are powerful together.
You know, there’s so much about the concept of solidarity that is about understanding the importance of making sure nobody ever has to fight alone; understanding the importance of standing shoulder to shoulder, recognizing the power of the many to speak with a clear and unified voice around some of the biggest issues of the moment.
I want to recognize my friend — I know your longstanding friend — Marty Walsh. He’s not able to be here today because he’s with the President. (Applause.)
Marty and I head up the Labor Council together, and I don’t need to tell you what a fighter he is — what an extraordinary fighter. He is a champion for the working people of our nation. So he asked me to tell y’all “Hello, good morning.” And so, I’m passing that on.
So, for the new friends, you may not know, but I was raised by parents who met while they were protesting for civil rights. And when I was a child, they would take me to the marches in a stroller. And what that meant and what that has meant is that from the earliest stages of my life, I learned that when people stand together in solidarity, shoulder to shoulder, whether at a protest or a picket line, it makes a difference. And it is powerful.
And so, that knowledge has guided my entire career, and it guides our administration. President Joe Biden and I are determined to lead the most pro-union administration in America’s history. (Applause.) We are proud. We are proud. We are proud.
Because what we are celebrating today, on Labor Day, is what we all in this room know we celebrate every day. When union workers go to work, they go to work for the entire nation. That means the building trades workers and steelworkers who are helping us to rebuild our nation. It is our educators who inspire our children and shape our future. It is our firefighters who put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe. It is our healthcare workers and our home-care workers who go to work every day to provide healing and hope during the greatest time of need for so many people and who, these days, have to fight on the frontlines to protect access to reproductive healthcare. And it’s our hospitality workers who take care of us when we are away from home.
Today, on picket lines, in union homes, and on job sites; in hospitals, schools, and grocery stores, union workers fight for better wages and safer working conditions. You fight to protect union pensions and the right for all working people to be able to retire with dignity.
And let us be clear, our whole nation — our whole nation, whether they are a member of a union or not, benefits from your work because when union wages go up, everybody’s wages go up. When union workplaces are safer, all workplaces are safer. (Applause.) When unions are strong — when unions are strong, America is strong. (Applause.)
And, you know, as Vice President, I’ve had the occasion to talk directly with at least 100 world leaders — so in the last year and half — presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, and kings. I was born in Oakland, California. How about that? (Laughter.) And in those meetings, I will tell you, these heads of state — they recognize that a great part of the success and prosperity of the United States is the result of your work. Because every day, workers fight to move our country forward.
And yet, we must recognize: There are those who are fighting to drag us back. In Congress, in statehouses across our nation, extremist, so-called leaders are fighting to turn back the clock to a time before workers had the freedom to organize; to a time before women had the freedom to make decisions about their own bodies; to a time before all Americans had the freedom to vote.
Today in America, our communities are being terrorized by gun violence. And yet these extremist, so-called leaders are fighting to keep assault weapons on the shelves.
Today in America, so many working families are struggling to get by. But instead of standing with working people to lower the price of healthcare, education, and childcare, these extremist, so-called leaders prioritize breaks for big corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent.
But together, we are fighting back because — (applause) — because we share a vision for our nation. We see a future in which every person will have an opportunity to succeed and to thrive no matter where they were born, what they look like. And so, with your help we are building that future. (Applause.)
So I’ll tell you a bit about what we’ve been up to with your help and because of you.
Since our administration took office, our nation has created nearly 10 million jobs, more than making up for every job lost during the pandemic. (Applause.)
In our first year in office, we extended the Child Tax Credit and cut child poverty in America by 40 percent. (Applause.)
We also passed a tax cut not for corporations, but for parents, to give them up — (applause) — to give parents up to $8,000 for the cost of raising a child — the cost of medication, food, school supplies — putting more money in their pocket to help them do what any civilized nation would do, which is to support working parents, understanding it’s an investment in our collective future. (Applause.)
Through our White House Labor Task Force, which Marty and I have been running together, we have torn down barriers to organizing.
This year our administration did the long-overdue — and we’re very proud of this — the long-overdue work to protect pension plans for millions of union workers. (Applause.)
Because of your support, our administration made the largest investment in a generation in our nation’s infrastructure. Many promised it before; we did it. (Applause.)
And not only did we do it, we did it with strong labor protections, like Davis-Bacon standards — (applause) — to pay the prevailing wage.
“Why?” some might ask. Well, it’s simple: So that we can create millions of good-paying, good union jobs across our nation.
And we are clear: To rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, we need you. We need plumbers and pipefitters in Malden and Chelsea — (applause) — to replace lead pipes in schools and homes to help us replace every lead pipe within 10 years, which is our goal. (Applause.)
We need electrical workers in Northampton and Essex to lay the fiber optic lines that will bring high-speed Internet to every household in America.
During the height of the pandemic, it became clear — you want to talk about the inequities in the system? When parents who did not have access or couldn’t afford high-speed Internet, what that meant for their children and lost precious days of education, not to mention our seniors who otherwise could have benefited from telemedicine.
We need the hardworking members of Boston’s building trades to build new bus lanes and sidewalks in Roxbury and to make — (applause) — and to make — and to make upgrades at Logan. (Laughter and applause.)
And because of your support, our administration is lowering the cost of living for working people.
Just last month, we signed a law — our President signed a law that will cap the cost of insulin for seniors at $35 a month. (Applause.) And the last numbers I saw tell me that one in three of our seniors has diabetes. This is no small matter.
Because the President signed it into law, we’re going to reduce health insurance premiums for 13 million Americans an average of $800 a year — (applause) — and lower prescription drug prices for people on Medicare.
And on that point, you know, for years — and I saw this when I was attorney general of California — Maura Healey has been doing extraordinary work. (Applause.) So, for years, the largest drug companies have made billions of dollars in profits selling drugs for 10 to 100 times what it costs to make. The healthcare workers in the audience — I know you know what I’m talking about. (Applause.)
So, for years, Big Pharma has tried to grow their profits by preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. For years, so-called leaders in Washington, D.C., supported this injustice. And for years, they got away with it.
But we said, “Enough.” So, last month — (applause) — last month, our administration, because of your support, gave Medicare the power to negotiate on behalf of over 60 million people. (Applause.) That is the power of collective bargaining.
So — so, friends, here’s the thing: To build a future where working people can get ahead and stay ahead, we’ve got to do a lot, including the cost of healthcare, including lost of — bringing down energy bills. In fact, we gave working families as much as an $8,000 upgra- — a credit for — to upgrade their HVAC system in their home, and that’s going to be about lower energy costs and cleaner air and more jobs for some of the folks in this room.
But here’s the thing: All of this work that we’ve been doing on behalf of working people, the critics — who have not been stepping up to support working people — would like to throw out all these red herrings, these distractions and talk about how are we going to pay for it.
Well, let me tell you, if anybody asks you how we’re going to pay for all of this, do let them know: As promised, we will not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, but this will be paid for. Because, you see, finally, our nation’s largest corporations will now be required to pay their fair share. (Applause.) It’ll be paid for. It’ll be paid for. (Applause.)
And one more thing: Do note that in our fight to build a better future, not a single Republican in Congress stood with us to reduce child poverty, to cut taxes for working people, or lower the cost of healthcare. Not one.
So, here’s my last point: The midterms are in 64 days. And we know what we are up against, and we know what we stand for. And I believe when you know what you stand for, you know what to fight for. (Applause.)
So, on this Labor Day and every day, we will continue to fight for working people. We will fight for the strength of our nation, understanding the connection. And we will fight, understanding — and Boston knows this — when we fight, we win. (Applause.) And so, we fight knowing there is more work to be done.
And so, let me just also mention, because I just decided to write this down — so, we fight in battleground states like Michigan and Wisconsin, in Georgia and North Carolina and Nevada and Arizona and Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Ohio. Those are just some. That’s where we fight.
We travel to do the work of reminding folks that when they stood in those lines for four hours, when they had to find childcare to drop off their ballot, when they navigated the obstacles that certain states are putting up for them to have access to the vote, when they put in their order in 2020 for what they wanted, we gave them most of what they asked for, but we need to see it through.
Let’s remind folks, because every year — we’ve all done this, most of us for our entire lives — around election time, people are going to say, “Why should I vote?” So we know, because that’s a righteous question.
Let’s remind them, starting now, that when they did that in 2020, these are the things they got and that elections matter. Let’s not let — (applause) — let’s not let extremist, so-called leaders turn back the clock.
We know what’s at stake. We know what we stand for. We know when we fight, we win. We love our country so deeply — (applause) — and all of this is worth it.
So, I thank you, Boston, for all that you do. God bless you. And God bless America. (Applause.)