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Carpenters Union

Beto Talks Jobs, Trade, and Unions in Detroit

The Presidential Candidate visited the Carpenters Training Center to hear about Apprentice Training and to hear from their members

Kris LaGrange's picture
Mar 18, 2019

Just 5 days after announcing his campaign, Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke headed to Oakland Michigan to talk unions, apprenticeships, and trade with the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights.

The event which took place at the unions training center, allowed O’Rourke to speak to some of the apprentices and members who had gone through the program. He also spent a lot of his time at the center learning about the importance of the training and asking questions about program specifics like how much apprentices will make, jobs prospects once they finish the program, and how the program can be used to retrain people who lose their job due to automation.

O’Rourke also held a roundtable where he answered questions from some of the members. When asked by a carpenter from Detroit about whether the government is investing enough in infrastructure, O’Rourke replied that they were not.

"When we invest in infrastructure we invest in jobs -- the kinds of jobs we're training for right here," O'Rourke said. "Republicans and Democrats -- this shouldn't divide us. We should be investing in infrastructure."

O’Rourke was also questioned about his stance on trade. Michigan was one of the hardest hit areas following NAFTA and O’Rourke has come under fire from some union leaders over his support for the TPA, which would have given President Barack Obama the ability to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While saying he supports free trade, he also said that these agreements must be used to increase wages and better people’s lives.

“Let’s just make sure that we’re trading on a level playing field -- that those workers in those other countries also have the right to organize so that they’re paid a higher wage and have better working conditions so it doesn’t make us compete at an unfair playing field,” O’Rourke said. “I think labor standards have to be conditional in any trade agreement -- whether that’s with Mexico, whether that’s with China, whether that’s with Vietnam. Not only is that good for the workers in those countries -- it’s great for workers in America. In Mexico, workers cannot organize. They produce tremendous value, in some cases in jobs that used to be here in the United States of America, and they’re paid $40 or $50 bucks a week.”

O’Rourke’s visit came just hours after his campaign announced that they had raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign. The fundraising haul is a record, surpassing the $5.0 million that was raised by Senator Bernie Sanders.

Beto also spoke on Thursday at IBEW. Watch his speech below.

Brian Young contributed to this story.

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