fresh voices from the front lines of change







Sunday I interviewed Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, a union with 1.3 million members. Now that we know Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is leaving the administration and a new Labor Secretary will be appointed and confirmed, I asked him about the policies that a new Secretary of Labor should pursue.

After a brief introduction I asked Leo these questions:

1) Rather than getting into personalities, I’d like to ask you instead about policies. What should the agenda of the new labor secretary be?

2) Do you think it is possible for a new labor secretary to do a new push for labor law reform?

3) The agenda in Washington has been anything but jobs. What can a new labor secretary do to both change the conversation and change the policies?

5) Lay out for listeners how organized labor and collective bargaining brings benefits to the American people in general, not just union members. How does it benefit regular people if the country enables strong unions that have the power to take on these large corporations?

6) Finally, on a topic not related to a new labor secretary, can you comment on the trade deficit?

During the interview Leo said a few things that you might want to listen for and listen for his explanations:

  • “Collective bargaining is under assault.”
  • “This attack on labor is a fools game, as you lower wages and benefits you create economic inequality and can’t sustain the economy.”
  • “You can’t sustain democracy when 50% of wealth goes to the top 1%.”
  • “Workers and trade unions are a cornerstone of any democracy.”

To listen to the interview, click here.

(I have to apologize for some background noise that starts part way into the interview. I had just installed new recording software and was not sure about it, so I started taking notes. The tapping seems to come through a bit.)

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