WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su welcomed business and finance leaders, workers and worker advocates to the department’s Washington headquarters on Nov. 28, 2023, to discuss the case for businesses, investors and related entities to expand their practical understanding of the benefits of worker voice.Participants included leadership from Microsoft, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, the AFL-CIO, a Communications Workers of America worker-leader and organizer, and other business and labor leaders and worker advocates.“We’re seeing record levels of worker organizing across the country and a fundamental shift in how workers view work and the role of work in their lives,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “To meet workers in this moment, the Department of Labor is promoting pathways to good jobs through initiatives that prioritize high-quality jobs, promote equity and support economic empowerment. I’m grateful for the opportunity to convene workers and business leaders as we enter a new frontier change in attitudes from industry and the investor community, and how it’s impacting workers and their employers for the better.”“New Frontiers for Empowering Workers and Business” included two conversations about emerging strategies for building and recognizing worker voice and demonstrate how businesses and investors can leverage these new dynamics to become more resilient and competitive in partnership with workers. “Broadly shared economic thriving is good for the economy and a good economy is good for a universal public pension fund portfolio,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “I was thrilled to join Acting Secretary Su and fellow panelists to discuss progress being made on the labor front and highlight the importance of ensuring fundamental rights are upheld throughout the workplace. I look forward to working with fellow members of the Labor Rights Investor Network in the coming months to engage with companies on critical issues impacting their workforce.”The in-person and online event also explored new forthcoming data on worker sentiment that can inform industry and policy, and powerful models for embedding worker voice that show how workers and employers can thrive together.“Having an unemployment rate persistently below 4 percent is something that many economists didn’t think was possible, and we believe that it’s due to the big investments that have been made in workers,” said Acting Executive Director Kitty Richards of Groundwork Collaborative, a non-profit think tank and advocacy group in Washington, D.C. “As wages are rising, and workers are organizing and conditions are improving, a lot of people are now in the labor market who weren’t really there before. We can grow our businesses and communities, but we need to understand what is bringing people into the job market and what is keeping people out. My hope is that this new data will help inform businesses and policy makers.” “Microsoft created labor principles that are embedded in our culture. We listened to workers, engaged leaders in the process and invested in learning to develop and implement these principles,” said Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Human Resources Legal at Microsoft Amy Pannoni. “I was grateful to participate in today’s discussion and hear about the experience of others, especially workers at ZeniMax. Thank you to Acting Secretary Su and her team for creating an opportunity to share real-world guidance to empower workers and business.”“As founders, we have a view of the world that workers should be able to organize, collective bargaining is good for business,” said Akash Systems Co-Founder and CEO Felix Ejeckam. “Manufacturing has shrunk to single digits of our GDP and we’re now trying to reverse that by bringing back jobs that have moved to countries with labor standards that we don’t approve of. We’re trying to bring those jobs back in a very different way to pay people a good wage and give them a real stake in the business and that’s going to require a different way of thinking. We’re being creative about our partnerships and working with a union is how we get to define what we want in this new labor force.”“Working with a company that has committed to neutrality means employees are a lot happier, they’re not scared to lose their jobs, they’re working better and being more productive and the result is less turnover,” said Zenimax Central Services Quality Assurance Lead and CWA member Rhyanna Eichner. “In our industry, institutional knowledge is very important, and we prioritize that along with other things like professional development because we believe that if our employees are better trained and ready, it will benefit both the worker and the company.”“From safety and health to training and professional development, there are all sorts of ways that companies can be much more communicative about the way they treat workers,” said Trillium Asset Management Chief Advocacy Officer Jonas Kron. “I appreciate the opportunity to speak with folks who are in a position to take on these data requests that can help us invest in more intelligent ways.”“We must involve the community to make sure that if we’re investing taxpayer money into public and state projects, then workers in those communities should be the first to get those jobs,” said Strategic Adviser to the President of the AFL-CIO Cindy Estrada. “And then we need to focus on how to prepare those workers to be successful in those jobs. Workers should not have to punch out of a democracy when they punch into work. A union is really about workers having a voice in important decisions on the job. These decisions not only impact workers’ wages, health and safety and other priorities, they impact the communities around us. I can’t think of a more productive way for our country to go than that.” 

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