SMART Training Facility
4:10 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Shamaiah! Shamaiah. Hey, everyone. Please have a seat. Shamaiah, you represent the heart and soul of Local 17. I’m telling you, you — just the work that you’ve been doing. And I’ve read about your work. I’ve had some time to talk with you. And you really do represent the spirit of all that we’re here to talk about. So thank you for that introduction and for all that you have done and have yet to do. Thank you for that. (Applause.)
Well, it’s good to be in the house of labor. (Applause.) Thank you all very much. And it’s good to be back in Boston.
So I will say, first of all, that I wanted to say something about your senator, Ed Markey. You know, I served with Ed in the Senate for four years — the four years I was there. And he is always fighting for Massachusetts — always. I’ve been in those rooms — (applause) — those small rooms when we would have — well, this is when we were in the minority, and we would meet for lunch, the Democratic Caucus, in the LBJ room. And it was just the senators — no press, nobody else was there.
And Ed, in his great accent — (laughter) — and, you know, he has a bellowing voice — would stand in the middle of the lunch, everybody would put down their forks and knives. “Here he comes.” (Laughter.) And — and he’d always talk about the working people of this state and the importance of fighting for them.
It’s good to be with you, Ed. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.
And he worked for 13 years on so much that is the foundation of us convening today. So thank you for that.
I also want to recognize, of course, your representative Ayanna Pressley. I just — (applause) — talk about a fighter. Talk about a fighter. And one of the things that I love about the congresswoman is that she has an equal amount of fire and force when it comes to her willingness and ability and preparedness to fight, but also her optimism. I really do admire and appreciate that about you. You fight. You know how to fight. You know how to roll up your sleeves. But it always is driven by your optimism about what is possible and your optimism about the capacity of the people. And I appreciate that. And it’s good to be with you again this afternoon. Thank you, Congresswoman. (Applause.) Thank you.
And, Mayor Wu, it is good to see you again. The last time I saw you was here on Labor Day for the breakfast. And I want to recognize, in front of all the friends, your leadership, in partic- — in many ways, but in particular on what you’ve done to create a division of worker empowerment with an emphasis on worker training and also on childcare — something that we still have work to do as a nation, but you’re doing it right here in Boston. It’s good to be with you again. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
So, thank you to Sheet Metal Workers Local 17 for hosting us today. (Applause.) Thank you. And thank you for going to work every day for the people of Massachusetts and the people of America.
So, we all know what you do, right? When the furnace breaks in the middle of the winter, families call you to get the heat back on. When the roof starts to leak or the refrigerator stops running, small-business owners call for you to help keep their doors open — as bus drivers and train operators — all of that.
You are the folks who get people to where they need to go and help them get through the day and through the month, and even in the rain and the sleet and the snow. And, yes, I’m talking about sheet metal workers. (Laughs.) (Applause.)
You are moving our nation forward. And so, it’s so good to be with you.
And, you know, I bring you greetings, of course, from our President, Joe Biden. And we feel so strongly it is the work that we have all been doing together — fighting to build a nation where all people can succeed and thrive — that is some of the best work that I think can be done.
We are fighting, of course together, to create millions of good-paying good union jobs — (applause) — yes — to protect workers’ rights, to expand American manufacturing, and to lower costs for American families. And the President and I continue to make lowering costs one of our highest priorities.
We lowered the cost of healthcare by capping insulin prescriptions for seniors at $35 a month. (Applause.)
And, you know, for many of us, we’ve traveled around the country and we’ve met with seniors who have diabetes, and, in so many cases before this, had to be in a situation where they had to juggle whether they were going to fill a prescription that a doctor dictated because it would save their life, and juggle between whether they could afford to do that or pay rent or buy food. So this cap of $35 a month is going to be lifesaving, in addition to bringing down cost.
And finally — finally, we are so proud that we have been able to give Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices — (applause) — against the pharmaceutical companies on behalf of 60 million Americans.
And we passed a tax cut, not for corporations, but for parents, to give them up to 8,000 more dollars in their pocket to help with the expenses of raising a child, of parenting our children — the cost of things like food and medicine and school supplies. Eight thousand — up to 8,000 more dollars in their pocket.
We — (applause) — yes.
We are also canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans — (applause) — including 800,000 students and borrowers right here in Massachusetts. (Applause.)
And help us get the word out, because here’s the reality of it: For so many of these young people, these young leaders, there are those who couldn’t even complete their education in these colleges and universities through graduation because it just got too expensive and they still have the debt, even though they weren’t able to graduate. So please help get the word out that even if they did not graduate, they are eligible for this debt relief of up to $20,000. (Applause.)
And, of course, we are doing everything we can to lower gas prices, which have fallen more than $1.20 a gallon since the summer.
And to be clear, gas prices would fall if oil companies — they’d fall even further if the oil companies used their record profits to help American families instead of their shareholders. (Applause.)
And finally, we are fighting together to lower home energy costs for families across the nation, which is the subject that brings us together this afternoon.
So, one of the best ways a family can reduce the energy bill is to make their home more energy efficient. But here’s the challenge: For many homeowners, many folks who are here today, you know that energy efficiency upgrades are expensive. And even though we know it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run, the upfront cost is often too high for so many families to be able to afford. And that is why we are investing $300 million here in Massachusetts and $13 billion nationwide to help families pay to upgrade their homes and to lower their monthly energy bills.
And that means providing rebates of more than $800
per household to help families purchase and install, for example, a new electric stove; and providing up to $1,600 per household to help families install new insulation. And it means giving families up to $8,000 to replace their gas furnace. (Applause.)
And to be clear, an electric heat pump is significantly cheaper to run. In fact, I was talking about — I’ve been looking at the diagrams in the back hall of the HVAC system. It’s really very intricate and it requires an incredible level of education and skill. I have mad respect for those who are putting them together and installing them.
But they are also more efficient in terms of energy bills, not to mention just a piece of art if you see it the way that they work.
So, on average, families that switch to an electric heat pump can save up to $500 a year on their energy bill. And since heat pumps do not burn oil or gas, they also mean cleaner air
inside your home.
At the same time, we will also provide immediate help to
low-income families to pay their energy bills this winter. And for those who are looking for that help, please go to: EnergyHelp.us to find where you can get help with your energy bill this winter.
So, as the workers here know, these investments will also create jobs. Jobs for electricians who do the residential wiring. Jobs for laborers who install energy-efficient windows and doors. Jobs for sheet metal workers — (applause) — who build and install electric heat pumps. Jobs for union workers who will be trained right here in this building. (Applause.)
And in addition to lowering costs and creating jobs, this investment will also help us fight the climate crisis.
And, again, Ed, thank you for the work that you’ve done on this.
Last year, President Biden set an ambitious goal: Our nation would cut our greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by no later than 2030. And by no later than 2050, we would reach net-zero emissions.
Today, I am proud to report that because of investments
like this one, our nation is well positioned to meet those goals. (Applause.)
So, Local 17 Boston, here is the point: We are working, all of us together, at the intersection of so many important priorities.
By helping families pay the upfront cost for energy efficiency upgrades to their homes, we are also lowering energy bills, bringing down household costs, creating jobs, and fighting the climate crisis. It’s all connected. It’s all connected with this effort.
And it is helping us to build a nation where all people
can succeed and thrive. So, I thank you all for the work you have done. It is this kind of leadership and collaboration that will allow our nation to grow its strength, its prosperity, and its position of leadership around the globe.
I’m very proud of what we are doing here, and I thank you for the hard work that went into all of it.
May God bless you. And may God bless America. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 4:23 P.M. EDT