tv Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Others Discuss Diversity in the Workforce CSPAN February 7, 2022 5:06am-6:01am EST
alabama. this is just under an hour. >> before we get started, housekeeping for live captioning available by clicking on the closed captioning button at the bottom of the screen and we will be taking questions at the end of the panel by using the q-and-a feature and we will then get to your questions. last fall we published a report on pathways for women in the construction trade, and also published pieces about the role
of unions in the recovery including the revolution in the canadian economy and close the racial wealth gap. one that is the engine of the high octane rip roaring economyy and i know this firsthand as a former organizer for the employees union. the sky is the limit and we know from history this doesn't happen on its own. there needs to be the purpose and drive to create equity. now we have a golden opportunity to do just that. november of last year the president signed into law the largest infrastructure bill in
the history of the nation. the bail was set to create 800,000 jobs annually over the course of the next ten years. they are equitable across the country. that simply hasn't been the case for the past infrastructure investments. occupational segregation based on race and gender has far too often been the painful norm. too many americans have been left behind into the industries are now fortifying the recovery of to the investment in the infrastructure bill. with it for example comprised only 4% of construction. it's also the groups traditionally left out of these jobs and it's long past time that we do something about it. creating these kind of jobs is a
cornerstone of this administration and we have seen this through the executive's orders the president has signed to the workforce development and new funding for antidiscrimination protections that president biden proposed in the build back better agenda and just a few days ago we saw with the secretary announced the good jobs initiative to provide critical information to workers and employers and government entities to seek to improve job quality and access. so now let me turn this over to our secretary of labor, marty walsh. a member of two to three in boston and served as the head of the building construction council in 2011 to 2013 and created building pathways. a groundbreaking program that continues to create access.
now of course is the secretary of labor. how inspiring somebody ends the circuitry of labor cares about workers. a secretary walsh, welcome and thanks for your leadership. >> thank you for that introduction. i want to thank you and every one of the center for american progress as well as my friend for cohosting this important event. it is an honor for me to be here virtually with today's distinguished panelists, not only a friend to me but certainly a champion for the workers all across the country. someone i've worked with very closely over many years and the university has access to good construction jobs because it's one of the issues we talk about more than any other.
i want to begin thank you for hosting me in birmingham alabama as we launch the minimum wage federal contractors and the maryland house in the baltimore dc trade. as a former legislator myself, we have a lot in common and i know how hard you are working every single day and i want to thank everyone for tuning in today as part of the event. servants, leaders from different unions, advocates for good jobs, the climate action. and especially employers we need you at the table as a partner and i'm glad you're here. this is a right mix of leaders we need together to make progress for american workers. the fact is we are at a critical moment with american workers into the american economy. we faced an unprecedented challenge in the pandemic and it has brought many long-term challenges to a head from childcare access to racial
equity. but this moment also presents a general opportunity, generational opportunity. president biden's economic policies have produced historic worker sense of recovery. last year was the greatest year of job growth that we've ever experienced in the united states. we saw the biggest drop in the unemployment rate since world war ii. gdp grew by 5.7%. that's our strongest growth in nearly four decades. and the fastest pandemic in the world. at the same time, working people are empowered and in comes from many of the lowest paid workers are raising. in addition, as you well know, the president delivered a 1 trillion-dollar bipartisan infrastructure law to build a better america. these are investments we haven't seen in our lifetime in roads and bridges and public transportation, broadband internet and clean drinking water, electric vehicles and environmental cleanup and will create millions of union jobs all across america.
we have several historic opportunities. to reverse the investment to reverse the trend of becoming a party and bring equity to the workforce for women and people of color, to build a truly inclusive middle-class for the first time in our history, to me that climate challenges by creating good union jobs and clean energy and resilient infrastructure and to revitalize the movement and bring the benefits of the union membership to a whole new generation of people. the bipartisan infrastructure law is designed to address these goals. the president was very clear about that but to reach its full potential we have work to do and we have to work together at every level. in the administration the president appointed me and my fellow cabinet members to the infrastructure of the task force
led by the former mayor and my friend of new orleans mitch landrieu. we are meeting frequently to make sure as the funding goes out, go to jobs and equity are the priorities and at the department of labor, the work advances the goals on a day-to-day basis. we are focused on empowering all workers morning and midnight and we are going to go beyond business as usual. we are making sure that everything we do is helping to create good jobs in this moment. it's a focused effort to make sure we are increasing job quality and job equity across the economy. that means we are working across the federal agencies to build job quality standards. we are engaging employers to help improve the job quality so every industry can attract and maintain the talent it needs. we are speaking directly to
workers making sure they have the information they need to exercise their right for in demand skills and good jobs and reaching out to local county and state leaders to understand what you need to create good jobs in your communities. we know what a good job looks like. it's a living wage and opportunity for advancement, it's access to healthcare including mental health services, paid family and medical leave and access to affordable childcare. it's safety and help on the job, a seat at the table. it's equity in how you are treated and respected. the good job initiative is also focused on creating equity and access to those jobs. we have to be intentional about what we are going to do and how we are going to use the infrastructure investment to build a more inclusive economy so it's a key area of the policy
focus. last year alone we invested $160 million to diversity and modernization of the registered programs across the country. apprenticeship is one of the most powerful tools that we have for getting people is secure place in the middle class. designed to open up opportunities for women and people of color. we know these programs work when it's done the right way with the communities poorly served by transit, case management for people with past incarcerations and other issues, financial support from people to buy tools and gear and a supportive inclusive culture. we build successful programs in boston and i've seen them across the country as the labor
secretary from oregon to la from maine to ohio these are the kind of programs we need to build a diverse infrastructure workforce. we are investing in them and we need everyone at the table because ultimately, success is driven by the partnerships you have on the ground. the people on this panel and this event represent essential partners in this way, so i know you don't need a call to action but i'm going to issue a call to action anyway and i invite you to share with everyone you work with. we must keep building partnerships at the local and regional level. we must have programs in place as the infrastructure projects come to the states and cities. the national leaders must provide support, whether it's employers, nonprofits or unions. and i pledge the department of labor will be there to guide the funds and support this work at
every step. our goal is to finally build it truly diverse workforce for the first time in america's history. it's not a small task but it's an opportunity before us and we can not do it without each and every one of you so i want to thank each and every one of you for your work and i look forward to our continued conversation. thank you for your continued leadership and energizing remarks and inspired call to action. it wouldn't be a gathering of union leaders if we didn't have a call to action and we appreciate that and your ongoing leadership. now i'm going to bring in the rest of this panel. secretary walsh, first we have the president of the north american building trade union.
a long time union construction expert that has led to the development of the apprenticeship readiness program that focuses on the recruitment of women and veterans into the building trade. we are also joined by ms. schuller the president of the afl-cio. the first woman to hold the office of president in the history of the labor federation and in that capacity, she serves as the president of the 57 unions made up of 12.5 million members. previously, she served as the secretary-treasurer of organization. president schumer has long been dedicated to strengthening the diversity of the workforce. we are thrilled to be joined by a member of the delegates since
2019 is a community development professional and as a director of the baltimore trade union she has spent much of her time ensuring that women, young people and others supporting careers. last and certainly not least we are joined elected in 2017. the mayor has been a proponent of the workforce programs and launched the promise that creates pathways of work experience and in demand industries. thank you wan and all for joining us. we are going to dive right in and i'm going to come first to you. thank you again for helping us to create this opportunity and ask some important questions. so, we all know as president biden said that the
infrastructure bill is a big deal. however we know women and people of color have been historically underrepresented altogether from these opportunities. what in your mind is the biggest and how can they union policymakers and advocates leverage these investments to ensure that unionized trade reflects the diversity of america? as you answer this question, let me make sure you have enough time to pull back the lens for us all to appreciate where we are at here. you started through an apprenticeship program in philadelphia. are these pathways open to others now and you describe these as an expedited to get to the middle class. how do we get that ticket to the middle class for those that have been previously left behind?
>> thank you, patrick and thanks to my fellow panelists for the opportunity to be here today. first and foremost, there have been decades of pursuit and promises made, promises not kept and president biden and vice president harris and the entire team finally after all these years delivered, so the opportunity not only is it historic but it's something the country desperately needs right now. i did start in the craft in philadelphia in 1981 and left to come to washington in 1999. apprenticeship readiness programs targeting communities of color, and risk communities, women and those that seek an opportunity in philadelphia when i came here but they were
already relatively mature on the west coast and what we've done is amplified the best practices. as we speak over 200 of the programs across the united states moving thousands of people from challenging circumstances, sometimes generations of circumstances and in the 1600 training centers in the united states. and with this investment that president biden and the congress has made, we have the opportunity to move tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of people into the apprenticeship programs and teach them skill set that would last 100 times through the apprenticeship and then have them find their place secure in
the middle class to climb the chosen profession for the rest of the lives. that wouldn't be possible to expedite this without the investment that comes through the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the shortest way to make sure the maximum amount of people have the opportunity because instruction is a competitive business. every project is to be big. nothing is assured that union contractors will be successful. at those they will fund through this investment and making in those project labor agreements the prerequisite to have the readiness program and local participation is the shortest way to move the maximum amount of people, and i can tell you that we are ready. we are doing this work and we are willing and able to amplify
as we told the president we have 250,000 people in the training programs, and we believe we can get that to a million. the only thing it prevents us from getting to a million is we have to have the jobs because we don't trade for opportunities that don't exist so we are ready to go. we are excited by the commitment of this administration has made and look forward to the opportunities to start to move people through the middle class. >> let me ask a quick follow-up to that if i can. the secretary's remarks said it was important that we get employers at the table. i've heard you say in the past that one of your goals as president of your union was to turnaround the adversarial relationship on these kinds of issues. help us all to kind of better understand what it means to you
in the department effectively with employers specifically on the diversity and inclusion and then the additional in the last few years you've seen phenomenal growth about 400,000 the last few years at a time of the rest of leader hasn't been going anywhere near this rate. i wonder if there's a relationship building a more diverse and inclusive workforce to the apprenticeships. >> i think there is a disturbing with the opportunities to work with our contractors and a very, very competitive business where they needed the proper tools, they need the proper productivity and safety records et cetera and the legitimate construction industry to compete and to compete effectively, so we like to say that they are relatively second cousins, not
exactly at the dining room table and thanksgiving. we are only successful going to work if they are successful bidding a project and having been accepted. so that is a huge part and it's also the response ability for hiring. working together to put programs in place to make sure that we are spreading as far and wide a message of inclusion of who we want to see these positions makes all the difference in the world. on top of that we have project sponsors and i know the mayor is going to talk about his program that is phenomenal. the big buyers of the service who do more than just about everybody else and say that they were making these investments. let's partner together to make this happen and we are having very, very successful outcomes from that.
i think that being a value added value-addedand understanding thn the industry makes us attractive to the project sponsors and contractors who say i want to work with those folks who can recruit the additional work and grow my business. then on top of that provide the project sponsor the people that are buying whatever projects are being built to get the quality safety productivity that they need on top of that to make them a good corporate citizen when they go the extra mile to make sure that they partner with us on apprenticeship readiness and they are opening the doors on the project and demanding quite honestly that the contractors who want to do business with them are going to have programs in place to diversify the workforce in a unionized sector. we are very comfortable and have been doing this for a long time
but it comes down to the owner demanding it. making sure they get the policies in place. >> you helped us get access to the complicated set of relationships and i think that works around the country to ensure the programs are successful. i'm going to turn to you now and i think he just gave us a perfect segue when he talked about the corporate citizenship are good corporate citizenship. we are at a moment of challenging citizenship in general. a moment of terrible polarization in the country, but it's also a time when we are seeing more momentum for organized labor. you come to your role at a time when it's public approval for unions and the u.s. has grown to its highest level in 50 years.
working people are in powered now in ways they have not been before. some of us believe that there is a relationship between the density of the union strength in the country, improvement in the economy, lowering disparities that create the lien strip and citizenry and it's a hard road to get there. it's not lost on anyone but you were also a historic first. the first woman to be president of the afl-cio. as we think about the infrastructure brilliant the infrastructure of 800,000 jobs annually over the course of ten years, how are you thinking about what all of this means for good jobs and that everyone can have access to including and especially women and people of color and what supports do you think are needed in the industry, and then helped me understand because i know you to be a powerful political thinker
as well as a union leader. help me to understand the relationship you seem between the success of all these things in terms of turning out the political environments. >> sure. thank you. that's quite a lot to tackle here, patrick. [laughter] just want to say thank you to you. it's good to be with you, an old friend. appreciate you and wanted to thank you for bringing us together for this conversation. it's timely and super exciting to me because this is something that i've been passionate about for years as i came up to the electrical workers union. and i'm thrilled to be with my fellow panelists of course. what could be better. i just want to quickly remind folks of the afl-cio. i never take it for granted anymore. the afl-cio is a diverse and inclusive organization at the top of the unions with 12 and a
half working across every sector of the economy. so we believe the unions are the best way to raise wages and end andsure people have good benefis and fight discrimination. so the federation is a collection of workers and all kinds of jobs and if you watched yesterday's game, those players, union members into the afl-cio, the staff at the center for american progress proud union members which is part of the international federation of professionally technical engineers, so grateful to your team as well and then of course the federation includes the working people who build and maintain the infrastructure sean was talking about, all a part of this big umbrella and as he said we've been waiting for this investment for so long. working people are ready to step up and rebuild the country.
we have seen throughout the pandemic people have been working harder and harder for less. millions of people are leaving the workforce right now because of varying factors and there's a lot of anecdotal information out there. but for the most part there is a notion of job quality people are looking for. many people are quitting because they've been let's just be honest, they've been in crappy jobs and putting their health at risk and they are saying we deserve better. so, what better an opportunity then this moment we have right now in front of us to build back better, as the president says, in towns and local economies all across the country. construction of course is center, front and center. but we are also talking about transportation and operations
maintenance at a job supply chains, manufacturing. and if we can build more in america, of course that supply chain could be such an engine for economic growth. and these jobs will absolutely be jobs for as you mentioned, women that have been underrepresented and people of color. so, i would say that in the past a lot of people think of infrastructure as predominantly men, white men, but the labor movement is changing that. not many people know we are the largest organization of working women in the country. we represent 6.5 million. but we've got some structural. to access these jobs and the numbers that we know the potential is there and i will mention two things off the top.
one is that women need to see themselves in this work. i think there's a lack of awareness that the doors are open wider than ever for women in construction. there are more women in the building trades then there were decades ago and there's this perception out there that you need to be able to walk across a bridge of two by fours with a sack of concrete on your back or something. not anymore. especially as technology has changed the nature of this work. so, the second thing i will say is what we have been hearing so much about, which is the safety net supports. the child care, the paid sick leave, the paid maternity leave. so, we need to invest in that system in the country and in a way that works for women and jobs like construction. how many allow you to drop your kid off at four or five in the morning so you can get to a
6 a.m. show up on a job, not many. so we have to reimagine how these systems are set up to accommodate how people work especially in jobs like construction. i know the building trades will probably talk about this later but there's all kinds of creative experiments that they are working on tutoring to facilitate that. and as was mentioned earlier, the labor movement best kept secret and we can create this pipeline of talent that the industry needs, make sure we are growing the next generation of workers, recruiting, people of color, recruiting citizens, by growing that pathway into apprenticeship. i know you will hear more about the apprenticeship readiness program in detail, but this infrastructure bill, once again, it's including investments into training programs that are going
to expand that access and especially into the areas that are emerging, which i think is a great example of energy efficiency for example where there's funding for the training centers the installation and maintenance of energy building so the clean energy economy. it's an exciting growth area that again is using cutting edge technology so i think that the opportunities are unlimited. we just need women to see this as a career for them and build up support system that we need underneath it. >> that is a powerful response. thank you. thanks for your friendship and thank you for your clarity and how comprehensive you are. you are right of course that
women need to be able to locate themselves in this work. secretary walsh talked about the stimulus and to build back better. we keep censoring those in policy outcomes and i think for the politics as well. but there are so many others at the center of the table when it comes to diversifying the trade. i'm going to turn to the mayor now to ask specifically about his community. we know from research. for instance, an analysis of alabama as a whole for example found that in 2019 alone the
of the frame is how the racial disparity and injustices around the work and equity plagued pretty much the state of alabama and i will tell you how i consider our state constitution in very progressive documents. alabama 1901 constitution unfortunately restricts meaningful policies and laws that govern the states and municipalities for every state in alabama. often we consider. about 21% of the last 41 plus years but that figure has come
down. so part of the question is how this happened. birmingham's population has changed which has a direct measure of the poverty gap and there are two dynamics. but also there's an economic impact on the city. the high wage jobs accessible which have kept some of the citizens below the poverty rate. so primarily in the industries especially the last two years. so we are working to advance the
there is something we want to lift up some of the questions you've been working on a responsible ordinance that would require jobs or projects that receive the dollars to include apprenticeships. i understand this is modeled on the similar legislation enacted in indiana and illinois. can you tell us how this would increase that access? >> first of all, i have to acknowledge it's nothing we picked up on and we have a state like alabama we have to be so creative in finding ways to
support not only our local unions and communities and give everyone access. that being the case, we believe it creates a very equitable playing ground for hiring local talent as well as supporting our local unions to be at the table when the tax dollars are given to those in the construction industry et cetera. when a city like birmingham is not doing everything it can to be intentional not only supporting unions but locals, we missed the mark. it puts birmingham on a trajectory and make sure everyone is at the table and participating in how the local dollars are given out.
i think when you add on this infrastructure that's come to the city of birmingham the dollars we have to make sure they are at the table. >> thank you so much, mr. mayor. we are starting to get audience questions pouring in. there's so much that we want you to pick up on and that requires your expertise. both president schumer and mcgarvey talked about the intricate relationship that exists between federal, state, local on these issues that are
best chance to speed through all of that. >> absolutely. thank you so much for the question. really happy to be here today with such it is esteemed panel. i think i will begin with a metaphor that i think one of the in terms of resiliency and for there to be sustainability, i look at this as a pipeline so in terms of that pipeline, it requires a lot of partners to be involved in a lot of money coming from the federal government for infrastructure investment but included it's its it'sbifurcated to the state ando the local municipals. i think at the state level what we can do here in maryland is continue as the secretary talked about in open remarks. we are continuing to invest in a commission readiness program and specifically investing in programs that we know work and are successful.
to have folks in the legislature and working at the local level who understand economic development does not yield the results around growth and isn't going to include lifting up workers. so at every juncture, folks know yes we are getting all this money but we have to remember that we want all these jobs there's a lot more work we have to do then give money.
built in the local hire and job quality standards and federal, state and local procurements to support these equity and good job goals. it's one thing to have the programs and another to make sure there's accountability. i wonder if you can speak to that. can you talk about the needs of the workers they are often the first to be let go and too many are reluctant for the need for training. but there's discrimination against them.
i will say the background that's on the stream right now is the 2019. last time we were able to hold the conference in minneapolis i will tell you it's the largest gathering of the building trade members regardless of man or woman in the united states on a yearly basis. there is no bigger gathering over 3,000 registered delegates. it's the largest gathering and lots of really important work is done there and it benefits the future planning to deal with the kind of issues we have in front of us now. so again, piggybacking on some of those comments. local governments, counties, states can make adjustments to the procurement of these dollars
for these projects very easily. i will give you an example. in the school district 25 years ago they put in a project labor agreement that targeted by zip code folks in communities where the schools were going to be rebuilt. tens of thousands of people have moved from poverty and now in the prime of their careers some of them are starting to retire. through the program which we just saw the historic additional project labor grant and then moved on to the status. that program goes on today because the unified school district said we are going to make this investment of tens of billions of dollars. they work with the building trades, the employer's. that program has been historically successful. it was expanded to the lax
airport, dozens of programs, formerly incarcerated programs preparing people behind bars so that when they leave prison the doors are open. we have the programs going on across the country and again it's local policymakers and political leaders in conjunction with us and our partners like catholic charities and dozens of others that we inform upon these policymakers to put these kind of provisions in so we can maximize the impact of the investment and again, drop down the ladders of opportunity in the training programs and through these investments to get to the middle class. and we continue to do that over 200 programs gone right now and ready to ramp up more but we have to do the jobs first.
i will tell you i'm going to be 60-years-old and i am not sure that if i never left the deal what my status would be because the construction industry particularly if you are in the east coast right now it's very cold and in the summertime it's very hot. the jobs could be and more so in the past physically demanding. technology has helped with that as president schumer said, but these employers have the right to hire and the right to terminate and when they have the force they look at a 35-year-old and a 60-year-old and even though i might have accumulated knowledge and process still productive even as advanced age for the industry. a lot of times unfortunately
they make the decision to let go of the 60-year-old. once again we can put provisions and agreements that make sure that we maintain an equal number of folks reaching those advanced ages that are still in the industry, and the other important thing about the unionized building trade is it doesn't matter if you are a man or woman or your sexual orientation. everybody is paid to the same. there is no gender gap when you work under everybody's paid the same. they receive the same benefits and same opportunities, so we are excited about the opportunities to grow.
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on wednesday, the senate commerce committee holds the confirmation hearing to head the federal communications commission. also wednesday on c-span.org and the video app, the chair of the commodity futures testifies to discuss what powers the agency needs to crack down the cryptocurrency markets. watch live on the c-span networks or c-span now, our mobile app or c-span.org. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. ♪
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