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VP Harris highlights union apprenticeships, infrastructure investment in Madison visit

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by Erik Gunn, Wisconsin Examiner
March 6, 2024

With Madison’s Metro Madison Transit Facility expansion as a backdrop, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Wisconsin’s capital city Wednesday to promote the Biden administration’s expansion of union apprenticeship programs.

Along with Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su and Madison Mayor Satya Rohdes-Conway, Harris toured a former warehouse site being turned into a transit depot on Madison’s far Northeast Side. When complete, the facility will house offices as well as bus maintenance, driver training and repair and storage for new articulated buses in the city’s bus rapid transit service.

“The work that is happening here really is a wonderful example of so many of our administration’s priorities,” Harris said, including rebuilding the national infrastructure as well as supporting union workers.

The apprentices working on the project are gaining “the kinds of skills that we need in a variety of jobs… in addition to the work that we’re doing to rebuild the infrastructure,” Harris said.

The vice president noted that apprentices earn a paycheck during their training, “which means that people don’t have to worry about whether they have to borrow money in order to receive an education that is for the benefit of the community and its productivity.”

In Washington, President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday directing agencies to build requirements or incentives for the recipients of federal contracts to higher registered apprentices.

The order also directs agencies to look at how they could expand apprenticeships in the federal workforce, and it reinstates the use of labor management forums in the federal government “to ensure workers have a voice,” the White House said in an announcement Wednesday.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale, also part of the entourage that accompanied Harris, called Biden “the most pro-union president in our history” and applauded the executive order.

“We in the labor movement are pleased to see President Biden and Vice President Harris are working to improve the lives of working people and especially young people seeking apprenticeships,” Bloomingdale said in an interview after the visit.

Harris also stopped by the West Side Madison home where she lived as a 3- to 5-year-old when her parents worked at the University of Wisconsin and spoke with the current occupants. Her father taught economics and her mother was a breast cancer researcher at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, according to the White House. 

This story is republished from the Wisconsin Examiner under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.