VP Kamala Harris makes first visit to Pittsburgh, talks unions and Child Tax Credit

PITTSBURGH — Vice President Kamala Harris visited Pittsburgh on Monday, meeting with union organizers in the South Side.

Harris visited Brookline Recreation Center on Monday, the backdrop for promoting the Child Tax Credit, part of the American Rescue Plan.

“The American Rescue Plan will lift half of America’s children out of poverty,” Harris said to applause.

She visited Brookline, not only to promote the plan, but to educate people about it and to get them to sign up for it if they haven’t paid taxes or applied for a stimulus check. The credit provides up to $3,600 per year per child for families making less than $150,000.

Families making more could be eligible for partial payments.

“The cost of living keeps going up, but wages have remained stagnant in many parts of the country. So, we need to meet the demands again on our families, and that extra $1,000 or $1,600, you know what that means ... that could cover a month of rent, a few months of groceries, an entire year of diapers,” Harris said.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess said some members of his extended family will benefit from the program.

“I have two nieces who both have multiple children, so that’s significant money in their pocket, and it can change the quality of their life,” he said.

And other leaders say the credits could help to break the cycle of poverty and violence plaguing some communities.

“This money coming in allows families to be slightly more secure and maybe just stand on their feet long enough for someone to pull them in and help them a little bit more,” Richard Carrington, of Voices Against Violence, said.

Harris said the monthly Child Tax Credit payments will begin going out in July, and she says she hopes to extend the program and continue it for at least five more years.

Harris then visited union members for a round-table discussion with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on organizing workers and empowerment at the Electrical Workers Union Hall on the South Side, talking about reinforcing the right to collective bargaining and eliminating intimidation.

“Thank unions every day for the five-day work week, for the weekend, for paid leave if you got it. We’ve still got work to do there. Family leave and vacation time,” Harris said. “I’m here to thank you on behalf of the president and myself and then to dedicated ourselves to the work we need to get done.”

The Vice President believes the support of working men and women will translate into a strong economy.

“Our administration feels very strongly that there is no issue that they can take on that is too small or too big to do what we must do to remove the barriers to workers having the ability, the true real ability, to join a union,” Harris said.

Harris noted that the White House has created a taskforce on local organizing and empowerment, and the comments and concerns gathered here in Pittsburgh will help them better respond to some of the more critical issues facing workers who want to join a union.