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Kamala Harris touts raise for union workers, showcasing Dems' continued ties to Big Labor

 September 8, 2023

Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled a new rule boosting wages for construction workers on federally funded projects in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, Harris traveled to the city to discuss the Biden administration's latest move to increase wage standards for construction workers. This initiative is part of the larger "Bidenomics" agenda aimed at uplifting working-class Americans, as ABC News reported.

Details of the new wage regulation

In her speech at the Finishing Trades Institute, a center for union training and education, Harris shed light on the revised prevailing wage regulations.

The rules fall under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA). This legislation determines the hourly wage rates for numerous union workers.

According to senior administration officials, the rule will affect over a million construction workers. Most of these workers lack a college degree.

Harris expressed her concerns, stating:

Here's the problem. Those standards have not been updated for 40 years. And as a result, many workers are paid much less than they deserve, much less than the value of their work. And not just by little, in some cases by thousands of dollars a year. And that is wrong, obviously, and completely unacceptable in the Biden-Harris administration.

Expected changes for union workers

Elaborating further, Harris shared potential implications of the changes.

She explained:

A heavy equipment operator on federally funded construction projects, let's say in Allegheny County, might earn $17 an hour. After today, that worker could earn up to $28 an hour. So that's thousands of dollars more every year to help put a down payment on a home for example, or to save for retirement, or to simply take their family on vacation once a year.

Republican pushback

However, not everyone welcomed this news. Some Republicans quickly voiced their criticisms.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), a key figure on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, remarked:

This is the last thing our country needs as families continue to live with the painful effects of the Biden administration's inflation agenda.

Cassidy warned that the DBRA could drastically inflate construction costs, thereby burdening American taxpayers.

He also highlighted potential disparities in wage calculations between urban and rural regions.

According to Cassidy, these differences could lead to disproportionately higher project costs in rural areas.

Harris touts focus on working-class Americans

During her address, Harris emphasized the administration's commitment to supporting working-class Americans.

She criticized past trickle-down economic strategies, asserting:

We know that the way we're going to build our economy is to invest in working people.

Many union workers attended the Philadelphia event. The vice president took the opportunity to commend them, especially those who had recently undertaken significant projects.

Pointing to a recent achievement, she shared:

In June when a truck crash collapsed a section of I-95, the workers of Philadelphia, including many from the building trades who are here today, rebuilt and reopened I-95 In less than two weeks. I noticed the TV cameras here so I'm gonna remind folks that those folks on TV were saying 'Oh those repairs could take months.' These workers did it in 12 days.

The announcement indicated that the new wage rule would become effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Conclusion

  • Vice President Kamala Harris introduced a new wage rule in Philadelphia.
  • The rule aims to increase wage standards for construction workers on federally funded projects.
  • The change is expected to benefit over a million workers.
  • Republicans, particularly Sen. Bill Cassidy, expressed concerns about the potential inflationary effects of the rule.
  • The rule is part of the larger "Bidenomics" agenda to uplift working-class Americans.
  • The changes are expected to take effect within 60 days of their official publication.