Brown, Walsh, and Valerie Wilson, director of the Race, Ethnicity and the Economy Program at the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute, hit those themes in their interviews. Brown plans to pursue them legislatively if he returns to the panel’s top job after the November election, assuming Democrats hold the Senate this fall.
Walsh made many of the same points. Both EPI’s Wilson and Walsh, a Laborers Local 223 member, emphasized such measures must reach those who have been left out and left behind, even in the current fast recovery from the coronavirus-caused depression.
The anti-coronavirus laws Biden, Brown and Walsh pushed through “create a pathway to middle-class jobs, especially for workers of color” and people with disabilities, the Labor Secretary said. They need it, Wilson added.
And DOL now will award job creation grants “and make sure we measure the outcomes” for those hardest-hit workers, the secretary promised.
The worst damage from the pandemic was to Black woman workers, Wilson elaborated. They got hit two ways. Many of the occupations they were forced into, and which already were low-paying, such as home health care and restaurant servers, suffered the worst job losses. And even if jobs remained, the pandemic-caused national closure of schools forced thousands of working women to reluctantly quit, to take care of their own kids.
“This continues to be a problem and a challenge,” Wilson said of the future facing those working women. “And it’s due to the larger structural problems” in the economy and society, she added—a polite way, though she didn’t say so, of endemic structural racism.