Labor Secretary Marty Walsh explains how legislation is supporting the working class


U.S. Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh

Jamille Whitlow, Managing Editor

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh visited Durham Technical College with Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about President Biden’s plan of increasing job growth and supporting the middle class. 

The Bureau of Labor reported on Feb. 4 that unemployment has decreased by 3.7 million people in January. In comparison,   5.7 million people were unemployed in February 2020. This is attributed to the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that passed in November and the framework of the “Build Back Better Act” that is being revised by the Senate.

“We’ve been investing in job training and workforce development programs to get people back to work,” Walsh said. 

The infrastructure bill supports funding for economic development such as repaving roads,  creating more efficient energy sources like electric charging stations for cars and providing research grants to educational institutions. 

Having efficient energy accessible allows the cost for consumers to decrease and for research grants to institutions. The Labor Department is also spending $45 million “for grant programs to strengthen community colleges,” the News and Observer Reported. The grant programs introduce job training and focus on bringing more diverse people in the workforce,  particularly people in the middle class. 

“There’s no question, it’s  not just job growth, but creating, a pathway into the middle class for people,” Walsh said. “When you think about somebody that’s working in a labor union job, that job comes with benefits, comes with, in some cases, healthcare.. I’m a firm believer in collaboration. I think, if companies and unions were close together, companies can grow as well….”

The Build Back Better Act is similar to the infrastructure bill in cultivating more opportunities for free childcare for children under 6  years old, free preschool programs, free community college for up to six semesters and providing up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave. Now that the bill will have revisions, the new name is “Build Back Better Framework.” 

The new changes will allow families to afford childcare based on their tax bracket and “reduce cost for middle-class families” by moving towards clean energy, according to the White House. In efforts by Biden to rebuild the middle class, the framework includes investing in immigration reform and having the framework paid for by large businesses and wealthy individuals. If someone is making under $400,000 then their taxes will stay the same. 

However, this is not until the House and Senate can agree on the framework.