U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh joined rolling out’s Munson Steed on the “A Seat at the Table” talk show to discuss his work on behalf of American workers. The former Boston mayor — lauded for his attention to the needs of workers and those seeking employment — recently won a battle to raise the minimum wage. Walsh’s well-deserved reputation for fairness and transparency in government makes him a powerful advocate for working-class people.
What is the status of legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 and what will it mean for our country?
It’s the first step, we still have a ways to go to make it the law of the land, but many states have already [enacted] it. … Right now the minimum wage is $7.25. You can’t raise a family on that, you can barely raise a family on $15. At least it’s a starting point and it will hopefully help raise wages across other industries in this country.
What should citizens in the Black community do to position themselves for entering the job market and finding stability in the workplace?
The country needs to refocus their job training programs to create pathways into good jobs. We have to work with industry so when people get trained, they actually have a job at the end of training. President Biden has put forth a plan to make investments in workforce development, job training, and creating two million apprentices. He also put a special emphasis on equity, so that people of color have access to these jobs.
What are we going to do to remove barriers and get into the 5 percent?
The first is job training and creating pathways into jobs in tech. The second is asking big companies to invest in Black-owned companies. When contracting, make sure you are looking around to give companies an opportunity to move forward.
What should the Black community do to get behind you and President Biden on these initiatives?
Continue to talk about what the president is doing; it will catch on and people will feel that it is important to have a more equitable society. Also, mark us on it, look and see a year from now where we are. The biggest benchmark is going to be in the outcomes and what difference we are making.