Remarks by Vice President Harris at the Worker Task Force Employers’ Roundtable
Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1:40 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Secretary Marty — Marty Walsh. (Pronounced in Boston accent.) (Laughter.)
I just — I was a little late coming over because the President and I had our — our regular lunch today, and we talked about many things. And we talked about you.
Marty Walsh and those of us who have worked with him and had the blessing of having that time with him know he is a genuine, true fighter for working people in America. And he not only cares, he is extremely effective in fighting for working people in America.
And through the many stages of your career and your work on behalf of working people and families, you have shown time and again how leadership should think of the dignity of work, and therefore, be committed to the dignity of workers.
And I have seen it firsthand in the work that we have done, as you have said, through this task force. From day one, our President said we’re going to create a structure around this administration, in terms of going deep into the issues.
And we’re going to start, first, with ourselves. We’re going to look in the mirror, as the administration that is over this federal government, and look at the condition and the wellbeing of federal workers. And Marty Walsh, front and center, took this by the reins and did the elbow-grease work of ensuring that we would bring our Cabinet together, that we would bring agencies together, that we would get on the ground and make sure that we were being relevant on a daily basis to the people who work for the largest employer in the country — the federal government.
And as a result of Marty’s work, we have seen — I’ve got just some of the numbers: The Department of Labor is on track to meet the goal of 1 million new apprenticeships by 2025. We have recovered over $520 million in back wages. It’s a big deal. We have protected pensions for millions of workers and retirees. And this is just — I could go on and on about what you have done and who you are.
And so we are so fortunate to have had a Secretary of Labor in you. And as I’ve said to you many times: People around our country, who may not know your name and who you may never meet, are forever benefitted because of your service.
So I want to just ask everybody to applaud our Secretary of Labor. (Applause.)
So on the — on the — the subject of the meeting today, as Secretary Walsh has said, this task force has been working for two years on a number of issues that have been about reinforcing the importance of protecting workers’ ability to engage in collective bargaining, what we must do to make sure that people are well informed of their rights and also their access and their invitation to be a member of a union.
We have been doing the work of informing the federal workforce, but by extension their family members and the public in general, about the benefits of union membership. And as the Secretary has said, there are many, and we know that.
There is the work that is about being a part of a union that is about having an advocate for wages, for benefits, for making sure that the workplace is safe.
But there is also the community that is so naturally, and almost uniquely, formed in the context of union membership that allows a worker to understand that they are not alone and that there are — that they have a family of colleagues who will stand with them in terms of their collective goals that is not only about the quality of their work and what they hope to achieve, understanding the dignity of their work, but what they are able to achieve on behalf of their family.
And so, today, this meeting is an extension of all of the work that we have done thus far and, as the Secretary has said, in particular to highlight the role of employers.
And we were very intentional about wanting to uplift the examples of employers who have embraced the importance of union labor and who have done the work then of facilitating and organizing, but who also can speak to the business model that benefits from union labor, as the Secretary has said: increased productivity; increased morale; and a — you know, we call it “esprit de corps,” the — the spirit of the workforce; results, as we have seen over and over again, from this kind of approach.
Some of the numbers I have is that, for example, in union manufacturing facilities, they’re up to 10 percent more productive than those that are not.
When you look at union workplaces, you see lower turnover than other workplaces. And states with the highest union density have the lowest turnover rates.
There’s empirical evidence of all these points that we know anecdotally and just based on our own experiences.
Union workplaces are safer. Thirty-four percent fewer workplace safety violations take place in union workplaces.
So the benefits are there — in terms of the business reason — to accommodate, facilitate, and support this kind of approach to workers and, again, the dignity of their work.
And I want to thank all of you who are here for spotlighting the importance of this.
For example, you know, Ford. So, the partnership between UAW and Ford has — is the partnership that is an example of one of the oldest apprenticeship programs that exists anywhere. And what they do in terms of facilitating the training, the upskilling of the workforce and how that results then, of course, in greater productivity, but also enhancing then the work that is being done, especially as we move into new economies, such as a clean energy economy.
I’m talking all over the world about this. I was just in Munich a couple of weeks ago, talking about clean energy economy. We’re opening up a whole new economy, bringing new workers into it, which is going to allow for the American that — for the United States of America to be more competitive on the global stage, but it also means what we need to do to partner up with IBEW and UAW to make sure that we build the skills that are necessary to enter this new economy in a way that we are competitive and strong.
So, I’m so glad that everyone is here today to talk about this. But I do believe that the work that is happening around this table and, by extension, around our country is not only for the benefit of individuals and their families and their communities, but strengthens us as a nation, strengthens our economy. And it puts us on track to continue to be able to compete and be a role model around the globe.
So, with that, I thank everyone for being here. And why don’t we get started?
END 1:48 P.M. EST