Harris heads to Philly as Su nomination hangs in the balance
The VP will talk worker power in a moment where strikes are at a 15-year high and union membership is at an all-time low. Meanwhile, Biden’s pick for Labor chief faces an uncertainty in the Senate.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Philadelphia this morning to discuss worker investments and protections with the Service Employees International Union, a labor union representing almost two million workers in over 100 occupations across health care, public services, and property services.
The visit comes as the nomination of Julie Su to be permanent Labor Secretary hangs in the balance and days after the Supreme Court weakened a rule intended to protect unions from allocating a disproportionate amount of their finances to identical lawsuits from anti-worker employers.
McKenzie Wilson, communications director for Building Back Together, a Biden-Harris advocacy group, told Supercreator in a statement that in Su’s role as acting secretary, she has helped spearhead a resurgence in workforce training to ensure that all Americans — not just the wealthy few — have the skills and training they need to access good-paying jobs.
“Julie Su’s significant understanding of equity, justice, and economic security has been reflected in her decades of experience and service at the Department of Labor,” Wilson said. “She is eminently qualified to continue driving the Biden-Harris administration’s Investing in America economic agenda forward.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday that President Biden still has confidence that Su can be confirmed.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that she actually becomes secretary,” she said. “So this is a full-court press to get Julie confirmed. Outside groups continue to also push her forward. And certainly she will get the support from the the White House as well and from this president.”
Su will be at this afternoon’s cabinet meeting in her role as acting Labor Secretary.
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana and Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema are seen as the swing votes for Su’s confirmation since Senate Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose. Many blame Su for fraud in California’s pandemic unemployment program when she was the state’s labor secretary and disapprove of her support of a bill that classified gig workers as employees instead of independent contractors. (Manchin, Tester, and Sinema are still publicly undecided.)
Manchin and Sinema were also key players in the budget bill that Congress passed last week and President Biden signed into law over the weekend.
Manchin’s pet project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, was finally authorized for completion in the bill, a fulfilled promise from Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer last year in exchange for Manchin’s vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. And Sinema kept in touch with negotiators from the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during the talks to shepherd a final agreement.
Jean-Pierre declined to comment on if Biden believed he had some cache to spare with Manchin and Sinema after the debt limit crisis, instead pointing to the legislation Biden was able to sign into law during the first two years of his administration with their votes.
Another interesting wrinkle: Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia was not only upset the MVP was included in the Biden-McCarthy deal but that he wasn’t given a heads up before he found out from news reports, a courtesy he expected since the pipeline affects his constituents and because the administration has leaned on Kaine to whip votes for Su.
“This is a Virginia project, and they didn’t even bother to pick up the phone and call me. Have I made them mad? No, I’m the one they call to try to get cabinet secretaries confirmed. ‘Go talk to your colleagues, they’re not yet going to vote for Julie Su,’” Kaine told reporters last week. “They call me and ask me to help out. So like, what did I do wrong all of a sudden?”
In a blow to workers, the Supreme Court last week ruled 8-1 that the right to strike is not absolute and employers may be able to sue a union in court if strikers fail to take “reasonable precautions” to protect their employer’s property from foreseeable danger caused by the strike. (Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was the lone dissenting justice.)
And while strikes are at a 15-year high, the union membership rate slightly fell in 2022 to 10.1 percent, the lowest on record, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The rate was 20.1 in 1983, the first year for which comparable data are available.)
But new research from the Center for American Progress released last month finds that unions help working-class Americans build wealth.
Working-class union households hold nearly four times as much median wealth ($201,240) as the typical working-class nonunion household ($52,221). And working-class families of all races and ethnicities are far more likely to own their own homes when part of a union.
Union membership also helps close the wealth gap between working-class and college-educated households: The median wealth of working-class union households is 67 percent that of college-educated nonunion households as opposed to just 17 percent that of college-educated nonunion households.
And while union membership is tied to large dollar gains for all workers, working families of color benefit from the largest percentage of gains: Hispanic families hold more than five times as much wealth as working-class nonunion households, Black families hold more than four times as much wealth, and white working-class union families hold more than three times as much wealth. Families of other or multiple races or ethnicities have in excess of seven times as much wealth.
Vice President Harris chairs the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, which in March announced the launch of the Good Jobs Principles, which define the elements of good jobs, including the free and fair chance to form or join a union.
The Labor Department has relied on these principles to help federal agency partners incentivize equity and good jobs with more than $97 billion dollars of grant funding.
The principles were one of more than 30 additional actions federal agencies have taken on top of the 70-plus items announced since the task force launched in 2022.
For more: “Even people with good jobs get exploited” by Simone Stolzoff … “Strippers join servers and baristas in new labor movement”by John Logan … “Labor unions’ fight against AI is nothing new” by Meghan McCarty Carino and Rosie Hughes
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! It’s Tuesday, June 6, 2023. You’re reading Supercreator Daily, your morning guide to the politicians, power brokers, and policies shaping the American creator experience.
TODAY IN POLITICS
All times Eastern
8:35 a.m. Vice President Harris will depart Washington, DC en route to Philadelphia, where she’ll arrive at 9:20 a.m.
10 a.m. The House is in with first votes expected at 1:30 p.m. and last votes expected at 4 p.m.
10:40 a.m. Harris will participate in a moderated conversation with the SEIU on worker investments and protections at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown.
11:45 a.m President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
12:05 p.m. The vice president will leave Philly to return to DC at 12:55 p.m.
2:15 p.m. The president holds a cabinet meeting. Vice President Harris will attend and speak.
3 p.m. The Senate is in and will vote to advance the nomination of David Crane to be Under Secretary of Energy at 5:30 p.m.
7 p.m. Vice President Harris will speak at Israel’s Independence Day Reception at the National Building Museum to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend.
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