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Wu announces new city department to boost job training and help with child care

On Labor Day, Mayor Michelle Wu announced a new city department called the Cabinet for Worker Empowerment.

Wu said the department will establish more job training centers and set up a child care trust fund. It will also oversee the Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools, which promises significant job creation. The city plans to spend $2 billion to renovate public school buildings over the next decade.

The new office will be lead by Trinh Nguyen, who's the current director of the Office of Workforce Development. Wu said the office will be responsible for "creating a stronger culture of caution and safety on construction sites throughout the the city."

"In the last five months alone, we've seen a fatality, serious injuries, a near accident and multiple fires," Wu said. "This is unacceptable at our work sites in Boston."

Wu made the announcement during the annual Labor Day breakfast attended by state union members and leaders. Vice President Kamala Harris was the keynote speaker, and she reiterated the administration's commitment to labor.

"We're determined to lead the most pro-union administration in history," Harris said.

Harris touted two of the administration signature bills— the 2021 $1-trillion infrastructure bill and the recent Inflation Reduction Act — saying they will create more jobs. She also criticized some Republican members of congress as 'extremists,' who are trying to set workers' rights back.

"Instead of standing with working people to lower the price of health care, education, childcare— these extremists, so-called 'leaders,' prioritize breaks for big corporations and the wealthiest 1%," Harris told the crowd.

Vice President Kamala Harris sits with state leaders and union members for a roundtable during the annual Labor Day Breakfast in Boston (Yasmin Amer/WBUR)
Vice President Kamala Harris sits with state leaders and union members for a roundtable during the annual Labor Day Breakfast in Boston (Yasmin Amer/WBUR)

Republican National Committee Spokesperson Rachel Lee criticized Harris and Democrats for a "failed track record," citing high inflation, among other things.

"It’s no wonder why Kamala Harris headed to deep-blue Boston instead of a battleground state," Lee said.

According to the National Labor Relations Board, petitions to form unions were up by 57% in the first half of fiscal year 2022 compared to the same period last year. According to a recent Gallup poll, 71% of Americans favor labor unions, the highest percentage since 1965.

Related:

Yasmin Amer Twitter Reporter
Yasmin Amer is a business reporter for WBUR.

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