In North Carolina, VP Harris pitches ‘good jobs’ tied to Biden infrastructure plan

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan
·4 min read

Vice President Kamala Harris is in North Carolina for the first time since taking office, visiting Greensboro and High Point to push the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.

Harris traveled to Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro to speak about the American Jobs Plan. She is headed next to a tour of Thomas Built Buses, a manufacturer of electric school buses in High Point.

The jobs plan would spend trillions of federal dollars on physical infrastructure to fix bridges and expand transportation, plus more funding for home health care workers.

It would also expand broadband internet, an issue that has gotten increased attention in North Carolina after a year of mostly remote learning until students went back to in-person school this spring.

Harris said the plan will create millions of jobs.

“It’s about good jobs. Good jobs for every worker. Good jobs for every worker, everywhere,” Harris said.

”The truth is a lot of jobs out there require some education after high school,” she said, whether training, certification or a college degree. “We can’t just talk about higher education without thinking about what kind of training Americans need simply to get hired,” she said.

Harris said those “good jobs” will also be for women. “Hard hats are actually unisex,” she said.

Vice President Kamala Harris steps off Air Force 2 Monday, April 18, 2021 at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro.
Vice President Kamala Harris steps off Air Force 2 Monday, April 18, 2021 at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro.

Union jobs

Harris also talked about the plan for those jobs to be union jobs. “I believe every worker in America deserves the ability to join and organize a union.”

North Carolina has the second-lowest union membership rate in the country.

North Carolina is second only to South Carolina. In 2020, the nationwide union membership rate was 10.8%, which increased one half of one percent over the previous year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. North Carolina’s is 3.1%.

Ahead of Harris’s visit, leaders of the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters and North Carolina State AFL-CIO said in a statement the American Jobs Plan will “allow us to finally address the intersecting health, economic and climate crises we face.”

“As we recover from COVID, now is the time for millions of people to get back to work, with new, high-quality union jobs in a clean energy economy,” Conservation Voters Executive Director Carrie Clark and NC AFL-CIO President MaryBe McMillan said in a statement.

Harris started her speech talking about the Biden-Harris administration’s first 90 days. “Help is here, help is here. And hope is here. Things are looking up,” she said.

Joining Harris in NC

Harris’s plane landed at 10:30 a.m. on a rainy day in Greensboro, where Gov. Roy Cooper, U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan greeted her.

Cooper has been rumored as a possible running mate if Harris runs for president. He is in his second term as governor and while he has said he won’t run for U.S. Senate in 2022, he hasn’t ruled out other elected office. North Carolina’s governors are limited to two consecutive terms. Cooper is also the vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

As Harris began to talk at Guilford Tech, she called Cooper a longtime friend.

Cooper introduced Regan, touting his North Carolina roots and mentioning that he’s a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Regan was previously North Carolina’s environmental agency leader.

Elected officials in the room as Harris spoke included state House Democratic leader Robert Reives and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams.

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Greensboro on Monday, April 19, 2021, to push the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.
Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Greensboro on Monday, April 19, 2021, to push the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan.

Harris was last in North Carolina in the fall during the presidential campaign, after she became President Joe Biden’s running mate. During a late September visit, she spoke at Shaw University, an HBCU in Raleigh, and visited a Black-owned barbershop and hair salon in Raleigh. Harris is the first woman vice president, as well as the first Black vice president and the first of Indian descent.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it on Pandora, Spotify. Apple Podcasts. Stitcher. iHeartRadio. Amazon Music, Megaphone or wherever you get your podcasts.