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President Biden to visit Pittsburgh area on Labor Day

Evan Vucci
President Joe Biden has appeared in Pittsburgh multiple times during his administration, including this 2021 visit to tout an infrastructure spending plan at a Carpenters union training facility.

President Joe Biden will make another Labor Day appearance in Pittsburgh, the White House confirmed Monday morning.

Biden will make stops in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee to "celebrate Labor Day and the dignity of American workers," the White House said in a brief statement that provided no time or location details.

Rumors of a potential visit have been circulating for some time, but plans seemed to cohere over the weekend. Pittsburgh has in fact long been a touchstone for Biden, who launched his 2020 campaign here in a union hall — and who participated in Labor Day parades in 2018, 2015 and 2009. His stop will be the second to the area this year, and the third of his presidency, following a visit on infrastructure just after the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge and a 2021 appearance to talk up his American Jobs Plan.

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The visit comes on the heels of a number of policy wins for Biden, capped off by the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, and at a time when Democratic prospects in the upcoming midterm elections appear to be less dire than polls and pundits foretold earlier this summer. Democrats have been stepping up efforts to celebrate infrastructure investments made by his administration.

Vice President Joe Biden runs ahead of some of the others as he participates in the annual Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh.
Keith Srakocic
Vice President Joe Biden runs ahead of some of the others as he participates in the annual Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015, in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's Labor Day parade is among the nation's largest and oldest, but it is not clear that Biden will visit the march itself. He has also made a habit of visiting union halls, even prior to his presidency: Just days before the 2016 election, for example, he stumped for Hillary Clinton at a Steelworkers local hall that represents workers at West Mifflin's Irvin Plant, where steel slabs are rolled and treated.

Other prominent Democrats — including Senate candidate John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro — plan to attend the parade, though it is not clear whether they will appear jointly with Biden, in part because of the uncertainty surrounding his on plans. And despite recent policy wins, polls suggest Biden's popularity has yet to recover from a long decline dating back to last summer.

In a statement, Shapiro's campaign said he "will be in Pittsburgh marching with the hardworking men and women of labor on Monday as he campaigns to defeat our extremist opponent who has pledged to destroy the union way of life in our Commonwealth. As always, we welcome President Biden back to his home state of Pennsylvania.”

Fetterman's campaign similarly pledged that the candidate "will be marching in the Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh next week, and he looks forward to talking to the President there about the need to finally decriminalize marijuana." The campaign did not respond to a follow-up question about whether Fetterman hoped to meet with Biden outside the parade if he did not attend.

In any case, Biden's visit will add to the luster of a Labor Day celebration that could already boast of drawing the nation's top union official: AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, the first woman to lead the national union federation, is making Pittsburgh's parade her first Labor Day parade appearance since being elected last year. Another prominent woman in the labor movement, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, will also join the parade along with United Steelworkers International President Tom Conway.

In a statement, the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council hailed the White House announcement.

"The fact that so many national and international leaders choose to come here, year after year, is a testament to the working men and women of organized labor in western Pennsylvania, it said. "President Biden has always been a true friend to organized labor and we can't wait to see him."

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.