tv Labor Secretary Discusses Digital Technology Advancement CSPAN November 19, 2021 8:01pm-8:34pm EST
30 minute event. >> good afternoon i am an opinion writer for the washington post. welcome to washington post live. today we are talking about the u.s. economy, manufacturing, and jobs, and who better to talk about all of that than the secretary of labor, marty walsh. welcome back to washington post live. >> thank you for having me
today. >> we did see interesting numbers in the most recent jobs report issued last week, 26,000 factory jobs added in september, but the industry is still down by 353,000 jobs. what is the state of the manufacturing sector today? >> certainly we would want to see more involvement in the manufacturing sector. we have work to do to get back to the level. the president as two plans, buy american and greeting or opportunities for supply chain in the united states and american manufacturing. not only do we want to get back to where we were pre-pandemic, but the president's goal and agenda is to go far beyond that. we are seeing issues and supply
chains as we move forward. we went to bring those jobs back to america. >> you mentioned buy american. i want you to go into more on that, because my next question to you was going to be what is the biden's administration degree plans and incentivize upgrading manufacturing plans and equipment? >> the president has a task force put together now that is looking at how do we create the opportunities and buying more products here in america. we have seen during the pandemic problems and supply, our dependence on foreign supplies and trade as been highlighted big time here during this pandemic. the pandemic has put a spotlight on a lot of inequalities in our country, and manufacturing is one of those. i will give you an example. i was out in cleveland, ohio a couple of weeks ago, i was at
first alert, a solar manufacturing plant. they have one facility, they are building another festivity. they will create 2000 permanent jobs and their making sure the lowest wage in that job is over $50 per hour. it is an opportunity to create solar panels in america so i dependence on other countries will be less. we need to do more of that. i was in new jersey, they are building a wind turbine farm in new jersey, and again, products being built here in the united states, a lot of it will be shipped overseas but it will be created in the icings of america. as we shift our economy to a green economy and alternative power sources, building these types of equipment and materials 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. it will not happen overnight. over the course of next several
years we want to be more dependent on products made here in america, and we have to look at industries and that of a strength -- and how do we strengthen those industries. we cannot snap our fingers and say here we go. the president is committed to put together attacks worse, as a plan to move forward here. >> we need to demystify some things. i will point out some key things you used. you used solar, wind turbine, use the words -- word shift, shifting in the workforce or labor force. demystify it for people who might be focused on the manufacturing sector who have been manufacturing and producing one sort of thing and now see that everything is changing, and
we are talking about wind turbines and solar panels. they 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 20th century manufacturing to 20 manufacturing? -- 21st century manufacturing. >> i thought you were going to talk about the environmental shift from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources. >> that is part of it because you have folks in the coal industry who are worried about, what does this mean? >> a couple of examples. i was out in wisconsin talking to a roundtable of labor leaders and i was talking about retraining workers into the green economy, and some of the
trades said we do not need to be retrained. what they meant is they have the facility and curriculum to change the workers and what workers do. a lot of workers will change and adapt to the circumstance in front of them. it might be different materials and tools they are using but you can train workers. really what we are looking at and we are looking at job training programs and workforce developing program, i think we have to do it for me that we have in the past. we have to be more intentional that the program is we put in place lead to a job at the end of those programs. the american worker -- i do not want to say be rescaled, educated in the sense as how you'd change industry. when my father started work, it there were a lot more people on the job, a lot less machinery. a work in the industry for 35
years. toward the end of his career there was a lot more machinery and technology and the workers adapted and they were trained in the new technology. buildings were done faster, more efficient in some cases, but it is the industry. i think that we really have to think about -- when you think about what is going on, the unemployment in the country is at 10 million jobs that are open and how we are going to fill these jobs? a lot of it is people looking at their careers and what are we going to do. there are people who might have been working in the hospitality industry who went to bed and woke up the next morning and said wait a second, this is not what i want to do. i am not fulfilling my career, not earning good wages, i went to go into a different area, and people will learn to either get retrained or skilled or learned that industry. that is no different than manufacturing. it is no different than what you
were working on a car that is a gas vehicle and we are going to switch that vehicle and eventually be building more electric vehicles. it is retraining workers to do it. >> -- building a factory there was one there right now. there was a worker there and i was asking the manager, zeal of the company what the educational skill of the people working here , and he said we have everything from entry-level to phd working in the facility. there was a woman working and she was sitting frames where the solar panels would be laid onto. and i asked with this be her job for the rest of her life? and he said no it is not because she has every opportunity in the company to move her up whether it is a production line or other parts of the organization.
people will learn and people want to move into different areas. we can give them the skills they need, the education they need to move into host of areas -- into those different areas. >> you anticipated something i was going to ask more broadly. we had a story in the paper just the other day about the great resignation. there are lots of people as a result of the pandemic taking stock of their lives and what they are doing and deciding, i do not want to be in the restaurant industry anymore. i do not want to be in the service industry anymore. i do not want to be in manufacturing anymore. so you have the great resignation, which is piling on top of a worker shortage, which is piling on top of a lot of other things. as secretary of labor, how are you dealing with these multiple crises, just even one of them would take up your full tenure
there at the department of labor. how are you dealing with the great resignation and all of the other things attended with that? >> i look at this two ways. i look at the immediate concerns in front of us with many of these jobs, essential jobs that need to be filled, hospitality, health care, nursing. we think about how do we make sure that we have become out of workers we need to keep our economy moving forward. part of that is going to be short-term with investment and job training and working with cities and towns all across america, but in the long run i view it as a potential opportunity. president biden, when he ran for president and got elected president, use the phrase build back better, and the intention behind build back better was creating as to the middle class. -- was creating paths to the
middle class. some of the people in that category work in high-paying jobs and they are realizing that they want to change their work life balance. the pandemic game, they went to change. the majority of those workers are working in low income jobs, they are not making a lot of money. there are a lot of people including myself who had a lot of time to have dinner at the kitchen table at 5:00 like i did as a kid. we were not coming up, staying home, protecting ourselves and a lot of people started to evaluate where they were in their life and i think it was an opportunity here. the federal government, state government, local government make investments to help people better themselves so the next career they decide to go into, he actually have an opportunity to get into the middle class.
i spent seven years as the mayor of boston. i spent a lot of time thinking about the black community and latino community and my poor white community and how do we make life better for people who are paying rent, do not own a home, do not have any prospect of owning a home raising a family. it came down to workforce development, making more investments in workforce development. it also came down to making investments announcement -- in housing. i am going to work with the secretary to create better opportunities for housing. it is not just a job, it is about their life, it is about where they live, what they can support their family with. we have to readjust what we are thinking of. we are going through coming out of a once in a generation pandemic, and the impact of this
pandemic will be felt for it wide for quite some time, and the interesting thing about this , you and i were having this conversation today about the united states of america, but there are politicians in media and appointed people in europe that can at the same conversation, asia. this is a worldwide situation going on. >> speaking of worldwide, china leads the world in manufacturing with more than 25% of the world's production. what does the united states need to do to be more competitive locally? is it all of those things you talking about or pieces you have not mentioned yet? >> not to sound critical of my predecessors in the past but we should never have gotten out of the industry you think about manufacturing. you see the need for companies
in the united states of america to build solar panels. even though we want to be the world when it comes to clean energy and judging our economy our sources of power, we got out of that industry. when the president laid down his plan for increases in manufacturing, buying american, building american, this is going to take a bit of time moving forward. in america we have the technology, ingenuity, and brainpower to be competitive with any country in the world. ms. >> this is a -- >> this is a segue to an audience question from texas. out do we use technology to bring when factoring jobs back to the united states and reduce our dependency on other countries? >> i think technology will be key. a lot of people are concerned about technology putting people out of work but we are selling the american people short if we
think american people cannot figure out technology. technology will be key to the future. when i became the mayor in boston in 2014 we really did not use data on a daily basis. we change the way we delivered services by using data, and technology was a part of that. there are opportunities for us. we are a leader in the world and technology. we need to continue to say there in the future moving forward. >> let's go back to the jobs numbers. according to the september jobs report, 188,000 jobs were added in august, a far cry from the 500,000 predicted by economists. why are these job numbers still liking behind expectations >>? >>-- expectations? >> what are the biggest reasons
are the two topics we spoke about, people looking at the situation and realizing they are tired of working for job that is not fulfilling for them and they are not able to get into the middle class. i think that is one reason. i know the reason is people's concern of the coronavirus and the delta variant more recently. over 800,000 americans have lost their life during this pandemic. the political conversations around vaccines, which i do not understand how they are termed political but people saying i am not going to let the government tell me i need to get vaccinated people are dying every day because of the delta variant and that is an issue. i think we also have an issue during the pandemic, many of our childcare festivities in this country -- facilities in this country, many facilities had to shut down because kids were not
going into daycare because parents were working from home. they're having challenges hiring people because those are some of the same people working at low-paying jobs. we have childcare issues in this country. that is part of the issue. there are lots going on here, but i think we have to continue to take one step at a time moving forward. that is why i want to see feel that i secretary of labor -- i do not know if i would've said this a year ago because i was not as million with this office, but i secretary of labor -- as a secretary of labor we have such an opportunity to make targeted investments in key industries in our country and skill people up in a short. too of time -- short period of time. the days of putting a line in the sand between commerce and labor are over. we have to work together because we are in this together. >> you just mentioned, talking
about people building new careers, the mantra of the administration is build back better, but as we have gone through the pandemic, work from home for those of us who can work from home, and we are 1.5 years into this new work life, and i am wondering from your perspective now especially as secretary of labor, are we going through a realignment not just in terms of the economy but in terms of how we go about work, out of the american people go to work, whether we are fully shifting from the 9:00 to 5:00 or the eight hour workday 21 at a location to one that is a hybrid of working in an office for working from home or simply
working from home if you can? >> i think we are definitely going through a realignment in the united states in america and the world and what our work life looks like. probably one a month or two into the pandemic many people were talking about our limit would be working from home more. there is been a shift in this country and in this world of employment, and i think that it is going to take some time for us to figure out as we move forward what does that new workplace look like, what does that new worker look like in some cases. when the pandemic began we had an administration in washington that did not have a plan to deal with the pandemic. president biden inherited that. that administration did not have any consideration to what is going to happen to our economy as we move forward post-pandemic. president biden inherited that. the president came up with a very aggressive excavation plan to get 100 million shots in the
first 100 days. he surpassed that. he put forth a plan to reopen society, the american rescue plan, and investment plan that would begin to reopen our society. then he followed that up with two other plans, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, a physical infrastructure bill, and the build back better agenda, the reconciliation package inking about the long-term impact of our care economy, our schools, early education and job training. as we do this, the one problem that we have to face right now is the sense of urgency, and we do not have the time to wait 2, 3, 4 years to figure out what is happening. we have a sense of urgency that -- right now and i have a lot of smart people at the department of labor having these conversations about what is going on in our economy, because at the end of the day -- when i
called them essential jobs, we need to make sure our hospitality industry is open, people are fed, we continued to fill these manufacturing jobs, we need to continue to fill these medical jobs, nurses or medical professionals or people working in nursing homes, those of the jobs we need to continue to move forward on. i think it is going to take some investment. >> i want to pick up on something. a phrase that you used. a sense of urgency in terms of getting things done to move the country ahead. to my mind, it was an echo that jen psaki said in an interview with the pod save america guys where in talking about the reconciliation bill about how
there is a sense of urgency that they can't keep negotiating with each other and what is in the reconciliation bill. from where you said, does that sense of urgency you are talking about also apply to what jen psaki is talking about in terms of the sense of urgency to get the reconciliation bill done so the things you are talking about earlier, housing, childcare and things in the bill get passed on to the bill for signature and out to the american people? >> we need to get those investments out the door. we gotta get those investments
into states, cities, towns, workforce development. we gotta get them to the american people was soon as possible because we cannot lose any more time. we gotta keep moving forward. first friday of every month, we will have a jobs day and in the month of july, i was really happy. we had almost a million jobs. that was great but that doesn't mean we can sit back and rest on our laurels. we gotta keep moving forward. the next month it was 200 jobs and last month was -- i don't have the exact number but we clearly have work to do. it's not just the federal government work. that means industry, business, we gotta keep working together. >> if i heard you correctly, it it sounds like your message to congress and to congressional democrats negotiating over the reconciliation bill, had it done sooner rather than later. the sense of urgency is now?
>> you will get me in trouble. that is what we need in america right now. those bills. 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 where maybe since fdr that we made in investment into the kids economy, childcare, health care, job training that will come out of that bill. >> let me get you into some more trouble. >> i appreciated it, thank you. >> a couple times, you mentioned your previous job. that was mayor of boston. now, you are the secretary of labor. you are the first former union leader to run the labor department in more than 40 years. how has that experience shaped your views on the employee /employer relationship.
-- relationship? >> i was so-called management for the city of boston but when you were the mayor of boston port sec. of labor, it is about respecting workers rights and always appreciating workers. avoids been appreciative of workers in this country whether i was negotiating for or opposite them. my lived experiences, they have helped me in this job that i'm in today. >> how different is it from being a mere of a great sea like boston compared to being the secretary of labor at a national level? >> very different. i love being a mayor. i love the mayors because they are the closest people -- closest elected officials to
people. they have to respond instantly. when a crisis happens, you have to respond. at sec. of labor, it is a little different. this job, as a think about a moment in time we are living in, even though it is challenging and i get asked a lot of questions, it is a very exciting, interesting time to be secretary of labor. we are going through a time in the country that has been 100 years since we've gone through something like this and trying to work to make sure we support american workers and move the country forward. it is an incredible honor and opportunity. >> secretary walsh, maybe folks know this but they are about the find out. you are a huge red sox fan. in about five hours, the sox will start their championship series against the houston astros.
put on your sportscasters hat. will the red sox go all the way to the world series? if they do, will they win the world series? >> taking a line from one of my favorite nfl coaches of all time. we will take it one pitch at a time. bill belichick would say that. i will let you know in 4-7 games. >> [laughter] that is a non-answer. if you are is huge of a red sox fan as i know you are, you must have some sense about how they will do? >> if i minute to explain, when i was the mayor of boston in 2014, i had a friendly but with the mayor of denver that the patriots would win the afc championship against the broncos and i lost. i had to wear a peyton manning jersey. if you months later, the bruins played in the semifinals against the montreal canadiens. i made a bet with their mayor
and i had to wear a jersey. the following winter, boston college was in a bowl game and i took bc and we lost. i stopped betting. the next sport up was he patriots versus seattle. we won the super bowl. i refuse to bet. i fisa but in the atlanta game and we won the super bowl. we won a couple world series. i am not going there. >> we are over time but all those games you mentioned where you bet and loss, were you in attendance? >> no. montreal -- they were all away games. the afc championship that year was in denver. the montreal game was game six and we lost. the penn state game was a bowl game. it was new year's eve. i forget where the game was but we lost that as well.
>> i asked that question because if the red sox do indeed make it to the world series, are you going to sneak off to go to one of the games? >> listen, we will focus on tonight and we will fill in later. i'm not breaking any news here. one inning, one pitch, one game at a time. >> what i hear is -- >> they do have some big special going on, this red sox team. it reminds me of the oh 17. it reminds me of the 13 team. 07 had some superstars. there are stars in the scene but they are playing as a team. alex cora is an amazing manager. i'm grateful he is back with the red sox he is a good human being. he has them believing in sports, like anything, if you believe, that is part of the battle.
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