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

I know that the room I’m in is mostly businessmen. I think the dialogue between business and labor needs to expand, and it has to be serious.

—U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in Davos

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is in Davos, Switzerland this week for the World Economic Forum. At a panel on the future of work, he brought together business leaders to argue that there is a reason the labor movement is recovering: rising inequality.

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

The secretary said on Wednesday that there should be more dialogue between businesses and unions, and that company leaders, such as their chief executives, need to be present.

It couldn’t be “the HR director talking to the union president,” he said. “it should be [the union] President to CEO to find out what happened. “

Walsh’s comments, a former union official, come as some of the largest companies in the U.S. and the world face a growing unionization movement — companies like Amazon.com Inc. are also gaining ground. Amazon,
Apple Inc. NASA,
and Starbucks Corporation Starbucks,
accused of fighting the push.

SEE: Union push on Amazon, Apple and Starbucks could be ‘most important moment in American labor movement’ in decades

Plus: Labor secretary notes ‘more worker organizing than many of us will see in a lifetime’ in Starbucks and Amazon’s hometown paper

Walsh also spoke of the coronavirus pandemic being “brutal” and people coming out of it with a lot of feelings and emotions. “We had George Floyd killed in America… There was a revolution in America – ‘This time we’re going to be different.'”

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

Then he appealed to those in the room: “Let’s fix what we’ve been talking about. This is the time for action, not talk.”

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