Wisconsin labor unions react to Biden visit: Good speech but still hope for more from Washington
President Joe Biden delivered a very pro-union speech when he visited Wisconsin Wednesday, pleasing both labor leaders and rank and file. But unions are still looking for more from Congress and the White House as Biden contemplates a re-election bid in 2024.
Biden spoke at a Laborers Union training center near Madison. He followed up on his Tuesday night State of the Union praise for organized labor with a talk about projects and training in Wisconsin.
"Through the American Rescue Plan, we're funding workforce development programs, including $128 M here in Wisconsin, so American workers are prepared to compete in the economy we're building. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America," Biden said to applause.
Union members from around the state attended the President's speech. Laborers Local 113 in Milwaukee sent a busload of people, including Gilbert Gonzales. He works in road construction and is a mason tender—or assistant to a stonemason. Gonzales says she likes the President's record.
"The jobs are comin' pretty good. I can't complain because he's done a great job. We're keeping busy, and everybody's got a pretty decent job," Gonzales told WUWM.
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale also praises what she heard from the President. But she has more requests for Washington.
"We need to see not only the implementation of bills that have been already passed but the pedal to the metal in terms of creating good, family-supporting jobs. Making sure every worker has the ability to join a union if he or she chooses is top importance to us," Bloomingdale said.
Bloomingdale is talking about what's known as the Protecting the Right to Organize, or PRO Act.
Tuesday night Biden urged Congress to try again to pass the legislation.
But the GOP may not be conceding the labor vote to the Democratic leader. Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R), whose district includes some southern Milwaukee suburbs, released a statement criticizing Biden for cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline a few years ago and arguing that inflation has cut into worker spending power.