Courtesy of WBUR
Vice President Kamala Harris made a quick trip to Boston on November 9, 2023 in anticipation of National Apprenticeship Week, which runs from November 13 through November 19. The week is a celebration of labor, equity, and industry as well as education and helps to showcase how apprenticeship helps to rebuild the economy, promote race and gender equity, and support communities in need.
Harris led a discussion about apprenticeship programs and union jobs at the Pipefitters Local 537 in Dorchester, MA. The Biden-Harris administration has focused largely on their support for union workers and the creation of better paying union jobs; Harris’s visit to Boston comes as a continuation of this focus and advocacy.
Harris has an approval rate of 41% and, under the Biden-Harris Administration, union support is at the highest it has been in over fifty years. The unemployment rate is also the lowest it has been in nearly fifty years. While speaking at Pipefitters Local 537, Harris said, “It is about building up the skills of America’s workforce so we can take care of the people of our country and working people, but also so we can lead around the globe.”
Harris has been on a nationwide tour appearing at 19 college campuses and 14 schools. She has made it her mission to appeal not only to the union workers and middle class Americans but also those she sees as the future of America. The last time Harris was in Boston was for the 114th Annual NAACP National Convention this past July. At the convention, Harris was greeted by applause and empowered citizens, but her November visit to Boston was not as well received.
Following a string of Pro-Palestine and Pro-Israel protests in Boston, Harris was greeted by a number of protesters outside the Ritz-Carlton on Boylston Street. The protesters were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and holding signs that portrayed Harris as a criminal wanted for “crimes against humanity.” There was also a small group of pro-Isreali protesters and a large police presence outside the Boylston Street Hotel. Harris recently claimed in a 60 Minutes interview that the current goal of the administration is to keep the war from escalating. She said the United States has “no intention nor any plans to send combat troops into Israel or Gaza.”
Hundreds of protesters outside the Ritz-Carlton came up with rhyming chants to yell at VP Kamala Harris including, “we want free Palestine,” and “Kamala Harris you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide.” The protest was organized by the Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works toward developing sustained political power to create a just and peaceful United States. The goal of MAPA, in terms of the Israel-Palestine conflict, is to change United States policy in a manner that ends financial and political support to the Israeli state in their occupation of Palestine.
There was no comment by Harris on the protest, but there was at least one arrest that day. Protests similar to this one have popped up all over the city, especially in and around college campuses, specifically Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where there have been multiple arrests. Other protests have popped up all over the city including a pro-Palestinian march in Copley Square in late October. A number of groups were represented at the march including members of the queer community, muslim community, and organizations such as the Democratic Socialists of America.
The Biden-Harris administration has been very careful and diplomatic about their response to the situation in Israel and Gaza. Biden stated at the oval office. “I'm heartbroken by the tragic loss of Palestinian life, including the explosion at the hospital in Gaza, which was not done by the Israelis. We mourn every innocent life lost. We can't ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians.” Biden acknowledged both the loss of lives and the claims that Israel was to blame. Harris has been especially careful about her response to protests and calls for action, especially in Boston. Harris’s seemingly quick visit to Boston to address support for union workers turned to a political protest in a matter of hours and protesters were fighting to make their voice heard.