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U.S. Labor Secretary Discusses Colectivo, Labor Shortages And Build Back Better

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SHAWN T. MOORE/U.S. Department of Labor
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U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to threaten the health and well-being of many U.S. workers over the last year. However, for this year's Labor Day, the labor movement is touting some victories, as well.

For example, last month workers at Colectivo Coffee were authorized to form a union and attempt to bargain on a contract.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh noticed what happened with the coffee employees in Milwaukee and Chicago. He told WUWM's Chuck Quirmbach that the Biden Administration backs attempts to unionize.

"Certainly, I always support workers' right to organize. President Biden has been clear on that, as well. We support any worker's rights, and every worker in this country has a right to organize any industry they would like to organize," Walsh said.

Asked if the Labor Department, in general, can do anything in a contract bargaining situation to make sure both sides get together, Walsh replied:

"Government intervention should be the last resort. We should always try to make sure that we get the company and the workers who are organizing an opportunity to work out a deal, any time there is an organizing drive anywhere," Walsh said.

The labor secretary also touched on other issues in the news. On the labor shortage and the search by many firms for workers, Walsh said "Since President Biden has been in office, we have been able to get four million Americans back to work. This summer, we saw lots of people going back to work in this country. However, we still saw an issue with child care. I think as we go into this fall, we will see more Americans go back to the workforce."

Walsh said the U.S. needs to continue to make investments in workforce development, job training and apprenticeships. He said that is one of Biden's Build Back Better agenda items currently before Congress.

On concerns from Republicans in Wisconsin and elsewhere that the President's plans would result in too much spending, and higher taxes, Walsh said, "Taxes would not go up on the average American. Any American earning under $400,000 (per year), your taxes will not go up. And this is an investment. This is not spending. I view this as an investment. We have never made an investment in this country in the care economy -- in child care, in schools, in community college, in workforce development -- that we see right now being proposed."

Walsh also urged more people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Moreover, for this year's Labor Day, he praised grocery workers, nurses, doctors, first responders and others "that have kept us safe, healthy, and fed."

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