Vice President Joe Biden, right, greets worker Pamela Mesolella, left, during a visit at the Bobrick Washroom Equipment Factory in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
US Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday visited Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc, a manufacturing firm headquartered in North Hollywood, in what his staff said was an effort to promote the importance of middle-class jobs and to boost the nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage.

Prior to holding a news conference, Vice President Biden toured the Bobrick plant with City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. The visit came a day after L. County approved a plan to gradually raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas of the county to $15, mirroring legislation passed in May by the LA City Council.

Company President Mark Louchheim led Biden through a concrete-floored assembly room where employees in safety glasses were bent over their work stations building and testing soap dispensers.

“Our job is to hire talent,” Louchheim said. Some of those at work had been employed at Bobrick for more than two decades.

Biden watched over the shoulder of Pamela Mesolella as she worked. Mesolella said she had worked at the company for 21 years.

In a speech on the factory floor afterward, Biden congratulated L.A. city and county officials for their wage-raising legislation, saying it would “change the circumstances” of those making the current $9-per-hour minimum wage.

“They are going to receive the equivalent of a raise of $4,800. Now for somebody in that circumstance, that’s life-changing. It means you can maybe take your kid to a movie once a month and you couldn’t do it before. It means you can maybe fill the tank of your car one more time,” Biden said. “For people who have never worked for the minimum wage, who have never had to live on the minimum wage ... it’s hard to understand how profound that change is.”

22 July 2015