Biden lined up a cast of Cabinet members and enthusiastic business and labor figures to praise his infrastructure and jobs plan, highlighting the president’s message that building a carbon-free economy can create new jobs — “good union jobs,” as his administration members this week said repeatedly — rather than destroy them.
Flanked by White House adviser Gina McCarthy, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Biden listened as an electric school bus maker, a commercial building energy controls manufacturer, an electric grid expert and two union representatives — spanning the political horizon from the Business Roundtable to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — reaffirmed their support for the president’s domestic strategy and legislation.
“I used to drive a school bus,” Biden said to Jack Allen, chief executive of Proterra, which has sold more than 1,000 electric school buses and which would benefit from the jobs act. “I want to drive one of your electric school buses.”
Erica Mackie, CEO of Grid Alternatives, said solar jobs were “meaningful” and paid well.
George Oliver, CEO of Johnson Controls International, said his firm has already helped clients save $6 billion and that the firm stood ready to help Biden meet his goal of slashing emissions at 4 million large commercial and residential buildings. “Absolutely,” he said. “We know that that can be done. We would be foolish not to do so, because inefficient buildings are a climate hazard.”
Lonnie R. Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said “many existing energy jobs are good jobs for one reason: that’s because they are union jobs,” and he praised proposed legislation that would make it easier for workers to join unions.
“There are no jobs on a dead planet,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union. “We will work with everyone for a living planet.”
Buttigieg said a majority of the “millions” of transportation jobs redesigning roads, laying rail lines and installing electric vehicle charging stations “will be available to workers without a degree,” a group that has acutely suffered during the pandemic-driven economic downturn.