Second Gentleman Pool Reports of May 6, 2021

May 06, 2021

Pool Reports by Samuel Hardiman, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Sent: Reports:
May 6, 2021

Second Gentleman and U.S. Labor Secretary pool #1

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh arrived at the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center at 11:33 a.m. (Central)

They first toured a carpentry workshop at the vocational training facility in southwest Memphis. The tour of the center is part of the administration’s tour touting the American Jobs Plan and American Families plan.

Emhoff and Walsh spoke with Joe Kerley, the lead instructor at the Jobs Corps center. The carpentry program graduates about 16-24 people a year, Kerley said.

Kerley explained to Emhoff and Walsh that students are taught basic residential and commercial carpentry skills and also leave the program with other skills for warehousing and manufacturing. Students are often placed in jobs through a local union.

Walsh noted that the American Jobs Plan and its infrastructure spending could bring further jobs for Kerley’s students.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and U.S. Rep Steve Cohen of Memphis accompanied Emhoff and Walsh.

The Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center is named for former NAACP executive director and Civil Rights attorney and activist, Benjamin L. Hooks.

May 6, 2021

Second Gentleman and U.S. Labor Secretary pool report -#2

Emhoff, Walsh, Cohen and Strickland sat for a roundtable discussion with the leaders of the center, students and staff.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland praised regional workforce development effort and called Memphis an "opportunity city." Strickland said the Benjamin Hooks Jobs Corps Center is a "hidden jewel" in Memphis.

He introduced U.S. Rep Steve Cohen and described him as "no better champion for Memphis."

"Would love to see your wife in Memphis?," Cohen said. He noted the heavy presence of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority alumnae in Memphis. Vice President Kamala Harris, Emhoff's wife, is an Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Emhoff touted the American Jobs Plan and said it would enhance American competitiveness in the world economy.

"The response to the American Rescue Plan is universal," Emhoff said. "As we all know, it's just a start… We really need fundamental investment in our workforce."

"We can't just sit on our hands and expect everything to be OK. We need to invest in ourselves…. Emhoff said the American Jobs Plan would be a step to do that.

Emhoff said the American Families Plan would help women to participate in the workforce.

Emhoff said the trip was his 13th in the first 100 days.

May 6, 2021

Second Gentleman and U.S. Labor Secretary pool report #3

LaTonya Benson, the business administrator at the Hooks Job Center, described her role as someone who works with employers to determine what skills the center's 100-plus students need.

Cohen asked Benson how many students are hired by FedEx, the Memphis-based logistics giant and largest employer.

Benson said FedEx is among the companies who hire the most Job Corps center.

Rose Walker Cook, the director of the center, described the affiliated childcare facility — Educare Learning Center — as "a gift" for the mothers who are going through the program.

"Wouldn't it be great if they had this if they went to work… Why should women not be able to have these same opportunities? Most every country has it. We need to have it," Emhoff said. The American Families Plan, if passed, includes provisions for helping families afford childcare.

Benson described a woman fleeing domestic violence who has relied on the program and childcare as a means of feeling "safe" and changing her life.

May 6, 2021

Second Gentleman pool report #4

The wraparound services the Job Corps program provides, particularly childcare, was on display Thursday. Walsh said workers throughout the economy need more of that same help.

?"If you don't have a place to have your children… that hurts the infrastructure of the country," Walsh said, addressing criticism of the American Families Plan. Some have questioned whether government spending on childcare is infrastructure spending.

Ariel James, an accounting student at the program, praised the Job Corps system and noted that the staff and community around the program have helped her learn key social skills and have been attuned to her needs.

"It's one of the best things I ever did," James said.

The city's mayor noted the needs of the employers throughout Memphis and how the city has a lot of people people who could fill them.

Strickland said the city has the highest percentage of people 16 to 24 in the country who aren't in school and don't have a job.

He said the Hooks Job Corps marries the vacancies in the workforce with those same people who need opportunities.

Memphis has a poverty rate of 25% and it's economy is built around distribution and warehousing jobs. The Jobs Corps Center is not far from Memphis International Airport, the busiest cargo airport in the world.

The city's mayor also pushed for further federal investment.

"We need the infrastructure by the way," Strickland said.

May 6, 2021

Pool Report Memphis second Gentleman and Labor Secretary #5

The roundtable ended at 12:45 p.m. (Central). The group then posed for a photo.

Walsh has a scheduled event with AFSCME 1733, a large public employee union that represents city of Memphis sanitation and public works employees, that is closed to the press.

Doug Emhoff, Second Gentleman Pool Reports of May 6, 2021 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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