tv Labor Secretary Discusses Digital Technology Advancement CSPAN November 19, 2021 1:45pm-2:18pm EST
sundays on c-span2 or online anytime at booktv.org. >> now, labor secretary marty walsh. he talks about artificial intelligence and digital technology's impact on u.s. manufacturing. "the washington post" hosts this half an hour event. >> good afternoon. i'm jonathan capehart, opinion writer for "the washington post." welcome to "washington post" live. today, we're talking about the u.s. economy, manufacturing, and jobs. and who better to talk about all that than the secretary of labor, marty walsh. secretary walsh, welcome back to "washington post" live. >> jonathan, thank you for having me today. >> so we did see interesting numbers in the most recent jobs report issued last week. 26,000 manufacturing jobs were added in september, but the
industry is still down by 353,000 jobs since february 2020. what's the overall state of the manufacturing sector today? >> certainly, we want to see more involvement and employment in the manufacturing sector. we have some work there to do to get back to a level set. and then as one of the opening remarks here, the president has two plans, buy american, and creating more opportunities in the supply chain in the united states of america in manufacturing, so not only do we want to get back to where we were pre-pandemic, but also the president's goal and agenda, quite honestly, is to go far beyond that. we're seeing a lot of -- we have seen issues in supply chains as we move forward here. we want to bring those jobs back to america. >> you mentioned buy american, which i want you to go into more on that, because my next question for you, you know, was going to be, what is the biden
administration's plan to create jobs and incentivize upgrading manufacturing plants and equipment. >> certainly, the president has a task force that's put together now that's looking at how do we create opportunities and buy more products here in america. we have seen during the pandemic a real problem in the supply chain. our dependence on foreign supplies and trade has been obviously highlighted during this pandemic. the pandemic has put a big spotlight on a lot of inequalities in our country, and manufacturing is one of those. i'll give you one example. i was out in toledo, ohio, a couple weeks ago. i was add frisk solar, a solar manufacturing plant. they have one facility now. they're building a second facility. they're going to create 2,000 permanent jobs, 500 construction jobs, and first solar is making sure the low wage in the job is
over $15 an hour. it's an opportunity to create solar panels in the united states of america who are dependent on other countries will be less. we need to do more of that. we need to amplify that work. i was in new jersey. they're building a wind turbine farm in new jersey, and again, product being built in the united states of america. a lot of it will be shipped overseas, but a lot of it will be creating here, as we shift our economy to a green economy and alternative power sources. again, building these types of equipment and materials here in the united states of america is what is important. buy america, build america, and the supply chain go hand in hand. the president is setting goals to make sure that it's not going to happen overnight wrfrb over the course of the next several years, we want to be more dependent on products made here in the united states of america, by americans. and we have to look at the industries and how do we strengthen those industries. how those investments will come out of the build back better reconciliation package. there's a whole series.
you can't unfortunately snap your fingers and say here we go, we're going to start doing more and more manufacturing, but the president and the committee that's been put together, the task force, has a plan as we move forward here. >> secretary walsh, i want you to demystify some things. i'm going to point out key words you used in the last answer. you used solar, wind turbines, you used the word shift. a shifting in the workforce, the labor force. demystify for people who might be folks in the manufacturing sector who have been manufacturing and producing one sort of thing and now see that everything is changing and folks are talking about wind turbines and solar panels and how -- and i might have a hard time seeing how their skills can transfer from one to the other. what is the administration doing
to make sure that folks who are in manufacturing have the skill sets to transition from, say, 20th century manufacturing to 21st century manufacturing? >> no, thank you. i was laughing as you were me, thought you were going to talk about the environmental shift from fossil fuel to alternative energy sources, so -- >> that's kind of part of this, because also -- folks in the coal industry worried what does this mean? >> let me just, a couple examples. i was out in -- it was with, talking to a roundtable of labor leaders talking about retraining workers into the green economy, and how do you retrain workers. some of the trades -- we don't need to be retrained. they meant they have facilities and curriculum to change the work they would do.
a lot of adapt to the jobs in front of them. might be different materials and tools using but you can train workers. here's the problem in labor. really looking at, looking a the that job training program, and workforce development program. i think we have to do it differently than in the past. more intention's making sure the programs in place is actually a job at end of those programs. american workers and people can be, i don't want to be, say reskilled. might be -- educated in the sense of how do you change industries? people do it all the time. when my father started working construction in 1956 he came to austin started working construction and a lot more people on the job. a lot less machinery on the job. not a lot of technology on the job. worked in the industry 35 years. towards end of his career a lot more machinery and technology and the workers adapted. trained in the new technology to be able to deliver buildings,
built faster, same sized building built faster, more efficient in some cases. it's the industry. i think we really have to think about, when you think about what's going on, sure we'll talk about it. the unemployment in the country, 10 million jobs open and how are we going to fill those jobs is a serious question. a lot of it is people looking at their careers what will they do. people might have been working in hospitality industry all of a sudden went to bed woke up and realized wait a second after the pandemic. this is is not really what i want to do. not fulfilling my career, not the wages i want, i'm working hard and want to take my interest in other areas. people will be retrained or learn a new industry. no differ than manufacturing. no different than working on a car that's -- get gas, a gas vehicle you use gas today and switch that vehicle eventually and building more electric vehicles. again, training workers on how to do it. when in first solar.
sorry. one quick story. >> go ahead, secretary. >> walking through, wanted to, building a new factory and one there right now. walked through. a worker there. i was asking the manager, the ceo of the company, what the educational skilling of the people working here? he said everything from entry level to ph.d. working in the facility. there was a woman working, she was setting frames to where the solar panels would be laid on to. i said to the ceo. will this be her job the rest of her life? no, it's not. she's learning how to set the solar paths but has every opportunity through efforts of the company to move her up whether on a production line, into other parts of the organization. so people will learn. people who want to move into different areas we can help them, give them the skills and education they need to move into those different area. >> so in your answer there, because, again, you anticipated something i was going to ask more broadly, and that is, we
had a story in the paper just the other day about the so-called, the great resignation. how as you just pointed out there are lots of people as a result of the pandemic taking stock of their lives on what they're doing and deciding you know what? i don't want to be in the restaurant anymore, in the service industry anymore. i don't want to be in manufacturing anymore, and so you have the great referring nation, which is piling on top of a worker shortage. piling on ton of a whole lot of other things. the secretary of labor, as secretary of labor, how are you dealing with multiple crises. even one of them would take up the full, your full tenure there at the department of labor. so how are you dealing with the great referring nation of all the other things intended with that? >> i think i look at this two ways. one i look at the immediate concerns in front of us with
many of these jobs, essential jobs, that need to be filled as we move forward in different industries such as hospitality, adult care, nursing, programs like that. we think about how do we make sure we have the, the amount of workers needed to keep our economy moving forward? part of that is short term with investments in job training and working with cities and towns across america and industry across america, but in the long run i also view it as a potential opportunity. president biden when he ran for president and got elected president, he used the phrase build back better. really, the intention behind build back better was creating pathways into the middle class. many of the people in the great referring nation, if you will, many of the people, some of the people in that category, work in high-paying jobs, and realizing that they want to change their work life balance. working 15, 16 hours a day and
want to, the pandemic came. they want to change. majority of those workers are working in low-income jobs. not making a lot of money and thinking to themselves, i think a lot of people, including myself during the pandemic, had a lot of time to think like the old days. a lot of time to have dinner at the kitchen table, 5:00 at night with the kids. a lot of families did in america. weren't going out, staying at home, protecting ourselves and our families and people evaluated where they are in their life. there's an opportunity, get investments correctly, the federal, state, local government along with different cities and towns, to make investments to help people better themselves so the next career they decide to go into actually they have san opportunity to get into the middle class. that's the president's plan behind build back better. moving people into the middle class. spent a lot of people in the city of austin thinking be communities of color, latino and pol community, how do we make
life better for people paying rent, a prospect of owning a home, raising a family. came down to making more investments in workforce development and housing. not an issue i necessarily deal with here at secretary of labor but i think about the situation and economy we're living with and with secretary fudge about better housing. it's not just a job. it's about life. where they live, put their head on the pillow, expose their family to. i hope we are coming out of a once in a generation pandemic. and i think the impact of this pandemic will be felt far and wide for quite some time, and interesting thing about this. you and i have having a conversation about the united states of america today, but there are politicians and media and appointed people in europe that can have the same
conversation, in asia, that can have the same conversation. this is a worldwide situation going on. >> and speaking of worldwide, china. china leads the world in manufacturing with more than a quarter of the world's production. so what can the united states -- well what does the united states need to do to be more competitive globally? is it all of those things you're talking about or are there pieces you haven't mentioned yet? >> not to sound critical of my predecessors in the past here but we should have never gotten out of the industry, when you think about manufacturing. should is a stayed in the industry. up see in solar panel space alone the need for, we have a couple companies in the united states of america that build solar panels. we're so dependent on china for solar panels even though we want to lead the world when it comes to clean energy, changing our economy and sources of power. we got out of that industry.
that's why it's going to take a bit of time. why when the president laid down his plan for increased manufacturing, buying american, building american. this is going to take time moving forward, but america we have the technology, ingenuity and brain power to be competitive with any country in the world. >> this is a a good segue to a question, an audience question. coming from texas. from a person in the audience named richard bisque. how do we use technology to bring manufacturing jobs back to the united states and reduce our dependencies on other countries? >> i think technology is key to it. a lot of people concerned about technology putting people out of work but i think we're selling america people short if we think people can't figure out technology and use it as strength for us. it will be key for us. my experience in boston when i became the mayor in 2014, we really didn't use data on a daily basis. we changed the way we delivered
services simply using data. technology was a big part of that moving us forward. opportunities for us to, technology, still leader in the world still in technology. which is great. just need to continue to stay in the, stay there in the future moving forward. >> let's go back to the jobs numbers, because according to the september jobs report, 188,000 jobs were added in august, which was far, a far cry from the half million expected and predicted by economists. why are these jobs, job numbers, still lagging behind expectations? >> well, i think one of the biggest reasons is exactly the topic, two topics ago we spoke about. people looking at their situation in life and realizing that they're tired of working for a job that is not fulfilling to them and they're not able to get into the middle class. one reason. i think another reason is
people's concern of the coronavirus, and the delta variant more recently. people worried about their health and family's health. over 800,000 americans lost their life during this pandemic and that's real and i think people are concerned. the political conversations around vaccines, which i don't understand how it turned political, but people saying that, not letting the government tell me to get vaccinated. meanwhile people are dieing in our current every day because of the delta variant or covid-19. that's an issue. also an issue during the pandemic, many child care facilities in this country, i can speak for my city where i was mayor. many shut down because of no revenue coming in, kids weren't going to day care because parents were working from home. some places didn't open up and having challenges rehiring people because they were low paying jobs taking kash care of
our mostprecious. our kids. that's part of are the issue. lots going on here but we have to continue to take one step at a time moving forward. that's why i honestly feel that as secretary of labor and i don't know if i would have said this a year ago, because i wasn't as familiar with this office, but as secretary of labor, we have such an opportunity and resources available to make investments, targeted investments in key industries in our country and scale people up in a very short period of time to new career es. we have to do more work and i've done this with secretary mundo from commerce. i don't think the days of putting a line in the sand between commerce and labor are over. we have to jointly work together because we're in this together. >> you know, you just mentioned, talking about people building new careers. the mantra of the administration is build back better, but as we've gone through this, through the pandemic, through work from home for those of us who can
work from home. i mean, and we're a year and a half into this. into this new sort of work life. wondering from your perspective now especially as secretary of labor, are we going through a re-alignment? not just in terms of economy, but in terms of how we go about work? how the american people, like, go to work? whether we are fully shifting from the 9:00 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 4:00, the eight-hour workday to one at a location, to one that is a hybrid of those, of -- of working in an office or working from home, or simply working from home, if you can? >> you know, i think we definitely are going through a realignment here in the united states of america, in the world, in the way of what our workplace looks like. i know probably right a month or
two a into the pandemic many talked about our alignment working from home here. a shift in this country and world of employment. i think that it's going to take time for us to figure out as we move forward here what does that new workplace look like? what does that new worker look like in some cases? i think back to when the pandemic began we had the administration here in washington that didn't have a plan to deal with the pandemic. president biden inherited that. also inherited that last administration didn't have consideration to what's going to happen to our economy as we move forward postpandemic? president biden inherited that. the first two things the president did come up with a very aggressive vaccination plan to get 100 million shots in the first 100 days. surpassed that by 200 million shots and pushed forth, put forth a plan to reopen society in the american rescue plan. investment that began to reopen our society and started to see numbers go down.
followed that up with two other plans with bipartisan infrastructure bill, building roads and bridges, and drinking water and build back better agenda, reconciliation package thinking about long-term impact of care facility and schools, early education and job training. i think about as we do this the one problem that we have to face with right now is the sense of urgency. we don't have the time to wait two and three and four years to figure out what's happening here. we have that sense of urgency right now and at the department of labor, i valuate of great, smart people around me right now having these conversations about what's going on in our economy? because end. day kind of what i said beginning of the conversation. we need to make sure when i call essential jobs, not definition essentialal jobs but make shower hospitality jobs are open, peopler fed, continuing to fill manufacturing job, continue to fill these medical jobs whether
nurses or medical professionals or those who work in nursing home, the jobs to move forward on. it will adjust but i think it will take investment and quite honestly, the federal government opening up the purse to make investments in job training moving forward. >> secretary walsh, pick up on a phrase you use, that sense of urgency in terms of getting things -- getting things done to, to move the country ahead, and to my mind it was an echo of something that white house press secretary-gen psaki said, terms of talking about the reconciliation bill a sense of urgency that they can't keep negotiating democrats, negotiating with each other over what's in the reconciliation bill. from where you sit, does that sense of urgency that you're talking about also apply to what
jen psaki is talking about in terms of a sense of urgency to get the reconciliation bill done so that those things you talked about earlier, you know, housing, child care and things that are in the reconciliation bill get passed, on the president's desk for signature and then out to the american people? >> agree with that 100%. no question about it. talking infrastructure. when i say that talking about the whole two packages that we're talking about. both the physical infrastructure, construction people can see and infrastructure of laying down infrastructure of people's future livelihoods. there is a sense of urgency. once the bills are passed we need to get those investments out the door, get those investments into states, cities and towns, into workforce development. get those investments to the american people as soon as possible, because we can't lose anymore time. we need to continue to move forward. the first friday of every month, a jobs day. in the month of july i was able
to, able to, really happy -- month of august, almost 1 million jobs, ended up 1 million jobs. great. doesn't mean you can sit back and rest on laurels. have to move forward. next month, 243,000 jobs last month -- i don't know the exact number in my head but clearly work to do and not just the federal government work. all of us working collectively together. industry, business, governments. we need could continue to work together. >> if i heard you correctly and i don't want to put words in your mouth, sounds like your message to congress and to congressional democrats, negotiating on the reconciliation bill, get it done sooner rather than late jer the sense of urgency is now? >> you're going to get me in trouble, but, that is what we need in america right now. those bills, we will have, whatever the number is, in the reconciliation package, whatever that number is, i don't remember
any other time in the history of our country, since franklin delano roosevelt we made investment in the economies of our country, child care, job training, education, that's going to come out of that bill. >> let me try to get you in troublsome more. you're the secretary of labor, first former union leader to run the labor department. in more than 40 years. so how has that experience shaped your views on the employee/employer relationship? >> well, as mayor, interesting. i had a different perspective. so-called management as mayor of city of boston, but when you are the mayor of boston or secretary of labor, it's about respecting workers' rights.
always appreciating workers. i always have been a person that's been very appreciative of workers in this country and very supportive of workers in this country whether negotiating for them or against them. not against them. opposite them as mayor of city of boston. my lived experiences all of my experiences have helped me in this job that i'm in today. >> and so, then, how different is it from being a mayor of a great city like boston compared to being the secretary of labor? at a national level? >> very different. very different in some ways. i love being a mayor and i love the mayors in this country bauer they on the front line. most some of the closest elected officials to people and have to respond instantly. when a crisis happens in your city you have to respond at that moment. you can't work through a process. here as secretary of labor a little different. but this job is, as i think about that moment in time that we're living in, even though
it's challenging, i get asked a lot of questions what's happening in the employment world, it's a very exciting, interesting time to be secretary of labor. because i'm going through, we are, my team, going through a time in the country that it's been probably 100 years since we've gone through something like this and trying to work to make sure that we continue to support american workers and move america forward. it's an incredible honor and opportunity. >> secretary walsh, maybe folks know this, but they're about to find out, you are a huge boston red sox fan, and in about five hours, the sox are going to start their american league championship series against the houston astros. put on your, your sportscasters hat. will the sox go all the way to the world series and if they do, will they win the world series? >> taking a line from one of my favorite nfl coaches, favorite
of all-time. take it one pitch at a time. bill belichick would take that. take it one pitch at a time and i'll let you know in four to seven games. >> [ laughter ]. that's a non-answer. if you're a huge red sox fan, as i know you are, you must have some sense of how they're going to do? >> well, if i have a minute here to explain something. when i got elected mayor of boston in 2014 i had a friendly bet with mayor of denver, mike hancock, the. >> betsey: -- patriots were going to win and i lost had to wear a peyton manning jersey. a few months later playing against the canadiens made a bet and lost and had to wear a montreal canadien jersey. following winter, a ball game against penn state it took bc and lost. i stopped betting. next sport up, patriots versus
seattle seahawks. we won the super bowl. i refused to bet, refused to bet in the atlanta, won, a couple world series. so i'm not going there. >> we're in overtime but got to ask you this. all of those games you mentioned where you bet and lost, were you in attendance? >> no, no. the montreal in -- they were all away games. >> away games? okay. >> yeah. no. all away games. afc championship in denver. montreal game game six lost in montreal. penn state game, bowl game, new year's eve. forget where the game was but we lost that game as well. >> so, and i ask that question because if the red sox do, indeed, make it to the world series, are you going to -- going to sneak off to go to one of the games? >> listen, let's -- we're going
to -- we have to focus on tonight and we'll fill in later. not breaking any news here. i'm going to take it one inning, one pitch, one inning, one game at a time. >> what i hear -- >> this team -- this team does seem to have something special going on. this red sox team. it does remind me of the '07 team. reminds me of the '13 team. up know? '07. superstars. there are stars on this team but playing as a team and alex cora is an amazing manager. grateful he's back with the red sox. he's just a good human being, and he has them believing. in sports, like anything, if you believe, that's part of the battle. >> secretary walsh, i am not asking anymore questions that will tempt you to violate your role of making predictions. secretary walsh, we are out of time. thank you so much for coming
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