City, News

Vice President Kamala Harris visits Boston, meets with union leaders

Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris at a roundtable with Massachusetts elected officials and union members on Sept. 5. Harris delivered the keynote speech at the Annual Greater Boston Labor Council breakfast. TALIA LISSAUER/DFP STAFF

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the national keynote speech at the Annual Greater Boston Labor Council breakfast before attending a round table with Massachusetts elected officials and union members Sept. 5. 

The annual breakfast  — the first since the pandemic began — is meant to “honor the contributions of labor to society and reflect on the struggles and rich traditions of the Greater Boston Labor Movement.”

Harris addressed a room full of union members and supporters at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and touched on the contrast between the work of the Biden-Harris administration and the inaction of past leaders, along with the “whole nation benefits” from union work. 

When union wages go up, everybody’s wages go up,” Harris said. “When union workplaces are safer, all workplaces are safer. And when unions are strong, America is strong.” 

Following the breakfast, Harris participated in a roundtable discussion with Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Ed Markey, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley. 

Secretary-Treasurer of Boston Building Trades Brian Doherty moderated the discussion with the elected officials, which also included four other union leaders, including Kylah Clay, a Starbucks worker and member of Workers United. 

At a young age, Harris said she learned the power of solidarity between workers, which has guided her career and now, the Biden-Harris administration. Harris said she and President Joe Biden are “determined to lead the most pro-union administration in America’s history.”

Harris added the Biden-Harris administration is working to fight alongside the working class, mentioning how the administration has “extended the Child Tax Credit and cut child poverty in America by 40%.

Darlene Lombos, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council, said during her speech the fate of democracy is intertwined with the fate of workplace democracy. 

“It is our duty to defend and expand democracy in the workplace,” Lombos said. “There is no real democracy without democracy in the workplace.”

Harris said she hoped to find out how the Biden-Harris administration can best coordinate and collaborate with workers and also wanted to “recognize the value and dignity” of their work. 

Markey said 71% of Americans are in favor of unions, the highest percentage since the 1960s.

“Many people have been saying that unions are a relic from the past,” Markey said. “Well, young people have not gotten that message.”

Healey, who won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination yesterday, said everyone benefits from the “candid conversations,” like the one at the roundtable.

“I know that you know, firsthand, the value and support necessary to support the right to collectively bargain, to organize the supporting, so it’s wonderful to see that in Boston today,” Healey said.

One Comment

  1. Harris has been “invisible” recently. All the better for the country.