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U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh sits down with Yahoo Finance's Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer to discuss workers unionizing at companies like Starbucks and Amazon.
ANDY SERWER: In March, there was a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. And President Biden called for no intimidation. The federal agency has found that Amazon did legally intimidate workers during the union drive. Are you disappointed that Amazon defied the president's words?
MARTY WALSH: Well, there's going to be another-- there's going to be another vote there, I think. I don't know if the date is set yet, but I saw that the other day. There's going to be another vote there in that. So there'll be an opportunity for the employees to see if they want to unionize there. Certainly, the president's feeling and my feeling is everyone has the right to organize and they should be able to organize without any interference. And I think that that's for any company in America.
ANDY SERWER: Same with Starbucks, there's a lot more unionization going on with those stores. Does that surprise you?
MARTY WALSH: Not really. You know, when you look at the numbers, what surprised me is the polling numbers. 70% of millennials feel, they look very favorably upon unions. And when I say surprise, I'm happy to see that. I grew up in a labor family. And as a kid, you know, not everyone had the same feelings in my family, my father and myself, my uncle, my brother, and cousins who felt that way. So it's good to see that there is definitely an interest in unionization again.
Unions bring opportunities for people in this country they otherwise wouldn't have-- the power of collective bargaining, the power of fighting for raising their wages, the power of pensions, the power of other kind of pension plans, 401(k)s. So I think that there's opportunities here for us to rebuild the middle class by that. And, certainly, I support collective bargaining. And I support unionization. But I also support it being done the right way. So if people want to organize, they should be able to organize. And if people choose not to organize, they should have that right as well.
ANDY SERWER: That's interesting. Because I'm wondering, is the Labor Department-- where does the Labor Department stand technically with unionization? I mean, are they pro-union? Or are they certainly not anti-union, I would imagine? But are they neutral? And is it their job to foster unionization in this country or not?
MARTY WALSH: Well, listen, it's no secret I'm a union guy.
ANDY SERWER: Yeah.
MARTY WALSH: I have a union book in my pocket. But I represent all workers in America. So I represent those workers that are covered by collective bargaining and that belong to a union and I represent those workers that don't belong to a union. And I don't represent another one differently than the other one. So it's very important for me to make sure-- and we all do that in the Department. We have 18,000 employees the Department of Labor-- actually less than that right now. We're hiring up. Under the past administration, a lot of different departments got hit pretty well. But we represent all workers.