U.S. labor secretary, in Davos, calls for ‘serious’ dialogue between business and labor

I know I’m in a roomful of mostly businesspeople here. I think the dialogue between business and labor needs to be broadened, and it has to be serious.


— Marty Walsh, U.S. secretary of labor, at Davos

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum. During a panel about the future of work, he called out business leaders, pointing out that the labor movement is seeing a resurgence for a reason: increased inequality.

“Leadership is needed now,” he said, adding that leadership needs to come from business, government, nonprofits and labor, so that “inequality can be addressed finally.”

The secretary said Wednesday that businesses and labor unions should be having more conversations and that companies’ leaders, such as their chief executives, need to be present.

It can’t be “the HR director talking to the president of the union,” he said. “It should be [the union] president to CEO to understand what’s going on.”

The comments by Walsh, a former union official, come as some of the biggest companies in the nation and world face a growing unionization movement — and companies such as Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN,
-1.26%,
Apple Inc.
AAPL,
+0.47%
and Starbucks Corp.
SBUX,
-0.09%
are accused of fighting that push.

See: Unions’ push at Amazon, Apple and Starbucks could be ‘most significant moment in the American labor movement’ in decades

Also: Labor secretary takes to Starbucks and Amazon’s hometown paper to point out ‘more worker organizing than many of us have seen in our lifetimes’

Walsh also talked about the coronavirus pandemic being “brutal,” and people coming out of it with a lot of feelings and emotions. “We had George Floyd get killed in America… there was somewhat of a revolution in America — ‘we’re going be different this time.’ “

“Well, you know what? We’re not,” he said.

He then appealed to the people in the room: “Let’s tackle the issues we’ve talked about forever. It’s time for action, not time for talking.”

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