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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Kamala Harris March 6 1

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a future Madison Metro Transit facility on Wednesday, March 6, 2024.

Kamala Harris announces new labor initiatives in Madison visit

Vice President Kamala Harris promoted a new executive order to expand apprenticeship programs and high-paying union jobs during her second visit to Wisconsin in 2024.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Madison on Wednesday to amplify the Biden administration’s labor union initiatives and announce a new executive order expanding federal apprenticeship programs ahead of the 2024 election.

Harris spoke at the construction site of the future Metro Transit Satellite Bus Facility on Madison’s east side. 

“This work that we see behind us is a function of that partnership around how we can get federal dollars out to local governments and local communities in a way that they, then, invest in the talent of the community,” Harris said. “It is also an example of the fact that when we invest in the American people, including the American worker, everyone benefits.”

Harris, chair of the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, was joined by acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.

“The work that is being done here is really important to build our economy here in Madison,” Rhodes-Conway said. “This work would not be possible without the support of the president and the vice president.”

Harris also announced a new executive order Wednesday that will help create more registered apprenticeship programs in the federal workforce, according to the White House. Registered apprenticeship programs are industry-led, career pathways where “employers can develop and prepare their future workforce,” according to Apprenticeship USA.

Additionally, the executive order directs federal agencies to preference groups that hire individuals who participated in registered apprenticeship programs when awarding contracts or projects funded by federal grants.

The order also reestablishes federal labor management forums, a tool used by union members and management to jointly address workplace concerns.

Harris said Wednesday the apprenticeship work demonstrates the Biden administration’s commitment to rebuild American infrastructure and allows people to “receive an education that is for the benefit of the community” without having to worry about borrowing money to do so. 

The U.S. Department of Labor appointed 30 members to serve on the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship and assist the Secretary of Labor with the apprenticeship program, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Partner4Work CEO Robert Cherry was appointed to serve as the committee’s chairperson.

“Strong apprenticeship models are a proven method to create a sustainable pipeline of skilled and talented workers in communities across America,” Cherry said in a statement.

After the event, Harris made a stop at her childhood home on the west side of Madison, where she lived from age 3 to 5, according to White House officials. 

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Her father was an associate professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her mother worked as a breast cancer researcher in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research.

“I don’t remember the house as much as I remember the path down to the lake,” Harris told reporters. “Welcome to my Madison roots.”

In a press call Thursday, Wisconsin Republican Party Chair Brian Schimming characterized Harris' and other recent Biden administration visits as "rescue missions" that show their "ticket is in trouble," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Biden administration has made numerous campaign visits to Wisconsin in the past year as the state is expected to play a crucial role in the upcoming presidential election. This is Harris’ sixth trip to Wisconsin since being sworn in as Vice President.

Harris last visited the state in January, when she spoke at a union headquarters in Big Bend to kick off her nationwide “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour. She also visited southeastern Wisconsin in August 2023 to tout broadband expansion and domestic job creation efforts. 

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Marin Rosen

Marin Rosen is the City News Editor at The Daily Cardinal and a second-year journalism student. Throughout her time at the Cardinal, she's written articles for city and state news. Follow her on Twitter at @marin_rosen

Anna Kleiber

Anna Kleiber is an arts editor for The Daily Cardinal. She also reports on state politics and campus news. Follow her on Twitter at @annakleiber03.

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