‘It’s about relationships’: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh on how to balance the interests of labor and business

President Biden's first 100 days

(NewsNation Now) — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan will help transition workers in the traditional energy sector into greener jobs.

NewsNation spoke with the secretary about the future of labor along with the vote against forming a union at an Alabama Amazon warehouse.

Walsh, who has a long background of union organizing, said that to balance both labor and corporate needs, “it’s about building relationships and listening to all sides.”

“In my time here as Secretary of Labor, I’ve reached out to labor. I’ve reached out to business. I’ve had conversations,” stated Walsh. “Without having businesses, you can’t have labor. Without having labor, you don’t have businesses. So we should be working together.”

The former mayor of Boston also explained that his background of getting labor and business to collaborate as a city official informs how he approaches those negotiations now as labor secretary.

Biden is aiming for a massive transformation of the energy sector in the coming decades, and his plan invests in renewable energy, electric vehicles and upgrades to the electric grid. His plans call for 100% renewable energy in the power sector by 2035.

To thousands of people working in the fossil fuel industry, those plans may sound like the end of job security. But Biden proposed to employ out-of-work oil workers plugging uncapped oil wells and to create thousands more jobs stringing power lines and building electric vehicles.

Walsh further explained that these jobs can be as high paying and financially secure as the current energy sector jobs. He said those that state otherwise are using “fear tactics.”

“Well first there’s certainly money in the clean energy sector, so you’re talking about if some of these jobs get transitioned from the traditional pipelines and the ways of delivering energy to cleaner energy. We have to retrain people in those industries. Allow them the opportunity to work in those industries. And there’s nothing that states that these industries should be underpaying,” said Walsh.

Walsh stressed the importance of beating back the coronavirus as the best way to bring back jobs and help the economy recover.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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