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VP Kamala Harris calls for more union jobs during visit to Durham

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event at Durham Technical Community College in Durham, N.C., on Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022.
AP Photo/Ben McKeown
FR171414 AP
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at an event at Durham Technical Community College in Durham, N.C., on Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022.

Story updated at 2:28 p.m.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited Durham Technical Community College Wednesday morning to tout the Biden administration's commitment to worker's rights.

Harris and Walsh toured an apprentice training program for union electrical workers at Durham Tech. Gov. Roy Cooper and Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal also joined the tour.

In a prepared speech, Harris advocated for creating more union jobs. She said doing so will help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We see the potential for growth in terms of the diversity. 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," Harris said.

North Carolina is among the least unionized state in the country. In 2021, 2.6 % of workers in the state were members of a union, according to federal data.

Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting Durham on Wednesday to share remarks highlighting the administration's investments in workers.

Aboard Air Force 2, Harris touched town in Durham around 9:33 a.m. Harris, according the White House press pool travel report, stopped to chat for a few moments on the tarmac before departing for Durham Technical Community College.

Students at R.N. Harris Elementary School lined up along the fence and cheered as Harris’ motorcade rode by. Some of them held hand-drawn signs and portraits of the VP.

Harris then toured classes at Durham Technical Community College and the IBEW local 553 apprentice program with Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, Congressman David Price (D-04) and Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal also accompanied Harris and Walsh on the tour, according to the pool report.

At the end of the tour, Harris told a group of students, “Thank you all, you’re helping to make our country strong and help build it up — as the president would like to say, build back better.”

Amidst the trip, Harris tweeted from her account: “The Biden-Harris administration has created 6.6 million jobs and lowered unemployment to 4%. This morning I am in Durham, North Carolina with (Secretary Walsh) to talk about our work on strengthening our nation’s unions and apprenticeship programs.”

Harris is visiting Durham a day after President Joe Biden delivered the annual State of the Union address.

Celeste Gracia covers the environment for WUNC. She has been at the station since September 2019 and started off as morning producer.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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