U.S. Labor Secretary highlights COVID and the workforce in Labor Day statement

Woman smilling on partially assembled aircraftRiveter in the Lockheed Aircraft (predecessor to Lockheed Martin) Burbank plant in about 1943 (from the National Archives -- public domain)

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh highlighted the effects of the COVID pandemic on the workforce in his Labor Day message.

Here is the statement:

“We come to this second Labor Day of the ongoing pandemic having made great progress, and at the same time, acknowledging our continued losses. We honor the workers who, at great personal peril, have carried us this far. And we know that the dual project of defeating the coronavirus and rebuilding the economy is far from complete.

“This Labor Day, we reflect on what it means to honor the sacrifices of millions of essential workers and their families. Both in terms of the monumental effort they have put forth to support us all, and in the heartache the pandemic has wrought across the country. We acknowledge that many of the workers and families on the frontlines of the pandemic are among the lowest paid, and most vulnerable. Saying ‘thank you’ is the right thing to do, but it does not truly recognize their contributions. Telling them they are ‘heroes,’ which they no doubt are, does nothing to improve their lot. To properly honor these and all workers, today we recommit to our efforts to build an economy and a labor market that are more just and equitable, and create opportunity for all.

“Opportunity comes in many forms, and what happens at work impacts our lives around the clock. Morning, noon and night. With this in mind, we remain committed to growing the care economy and addressing the care needs of workers and their families in ways that allow them to thrive in their jobs. We will build a modern, inclusive workforce – ensuring workers have good jobs, opportunities for advancement and seats at the table, where workplace conversation doesn’t mean just a one-way communication from employers to workers, but a conversation that takes into account the needs and ambitions of all. And we will provide some peace of mind that one setback won’t destroy a family’s well-being – that you can get health care, find support for transitions in your career and retire with dignity.

“Often now we hear of the ‘return to work’ or the ‘return to normal.’ While many of us pray for these things, it is not enough to look back and expect that anything will be the way it was. At the Labor Department, we want things to be better. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with workers in building a future that works for everyone – with a stronger economy for all that is more prosperous, just and durable than we could have imagined prior to this great change that we are committed to learning from and overcoming.”

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