The White House Summit On Worker Voice: Welcoming Panel

Valerie Jarrett:
Good morning. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the White House. We are so delighted to have
everybody here. Tom and I was just joking
backstage that we have been working on this and we feel
like we’re about to give birth, but this is probably
longer than most pregnancies. We’ve been working on having
a Worker’s Voice Summit here at the White House. This is something the
President cares a great deal about. You’ll be hearing from him a
couple of times today. He was directly involved in
the planning of our program, and we know it’s going to be
successful because of all of you who are here today. And looking around this
room, I see so many people who have been working with
us since before day one on lifting up Worker Voices,
and ensuring that they are heard, and ensuring that
their needs and their values are met in the workplace. And so, I want to thank the
labor leaders who are here today. I want to thank the workers
who are here today. I met a school teacher
backstage, which I always have a perfect fondness for. The businesses who are here,
who are on the cutting edge, and who are transforming our
businesses, and who recognize that it isn’t a
choice between workers and businesses conflicting. It’s workers and businesses
together. The academics, the
researchers, everyone who is here today, we want to thank
you and we want to welcome you for coming. As you’ll hear from the
President, we’ve made a lot of progress over the last
six and a half, six and three quarter’s years. We don’t have to remind the
people in this room, because you know firsthand that our
economy was in a freefall when he took office. Our unemployment rate was
going up as high as 10 percent, and now it’s down
to 5.1. That’s progress, sixty-seven
straight months of private sector job growth. That’s progress, right? (applause) You can clap. That’s a good thing. (applause) We believed in the
automobile industry when some did not. Now, they’re back. That’s progress. See, you believed in our
cities. They’re coming back. That’s progress. See, you believed in
focusing on what we can do to have a clean environment,
where we leave our planet better for our children. We’re still working hard on
that, but that’s progress. But what we also know and
you all know firsthand, is there is a growing
inequality in our country, and there is a direct
correlation according to our Council of Economic Advisors
who are here today, between union shrinking and that
growing equality. Back in the day when unions
were prevalent around our country, we had a closer
gap, and as unions make up a smaller and smaller fraction
of our representation of our workers, that gap is
growing. And so, the challenge for us
today is to really ask ourselves some tough
questions. What are we going to do to
ensure that the 21st century workplace does meet the
needs and the values of the 21st century worker? We had an incredible summit
last year on working families, and we focused on
issues such as raising the minimum wage, making sure we
have equal pay for equal work, workplace flexibility,
paid leave and paid sick leave. We’re still the only
developed country in the world that doesn’t have a
federal paid leave policy. How are we going to be
globally competitive without that? The President has called on
Congress to pass legislation that would provide both sick
time and paid leave. It won’t surprise you
they’ve not acted on that yet, but the good news is
cities and states around the country are. And so, we’ve taken our
campaign, and Tom Perez and I have traveled our country. And we’ve highlighted cities
and states that have taken these issues and realize
that we have to create an environment where everybody
succeeds, and that companies that invest in their
employees will only (inaudible) . Companies that listen to
their employees, companies who give them a voice,
employers who know they should demand that voice,
and where you have that combination working
together, you find that the companies — what happens? Their employees
are more loyal. They’re more productive. They get ideas about
innovation and efficiency from the people who are
actually out there on the frontlines, innovating and
being creative. Who better to listen to than
the people who are working in your businesses to figure
out how to improve your business, how to make sure
you’re globally competitive? We know that diversity is a
strength and that every company no matter how large
your size, their size right now has to compete in a
global marketplace. That’s just as a result of
technology. Our world is shrinking. Well, if you want to do
that, then you’d better make sure that you have a diverse
workforce that reflects the world that we live in, and
recognize that diversity is in fact a strength. And so, how do we lift up
and empower workers? How do we have employers
enlighten themselves about how this good for business,
and good for economy, and good for our working
families out there, and what are the best practices? And there isn’t a one size
fits all. We know that in this room. We’re not going to leave
here today and say, “This is the one thing that we know
if we all do, it’s the silver bullet,” but what we
do want to do today is to challenge ourselves and to
really be willing to get outside of all of our
comfort zones, and figure out how we can make today a
laboratory for change. And if we go into it with
that attitude, I’m sure that we’re going to come out with
some best practices, with some ideas for how we can go
back to the people who you all represent, and to the
folks who are watching online with some fresh and
new ideas, because the United States is still the
best country in the world, second to none. People want to come here. People want to invest here. People want to do business
here, but what we have to ensure is as our economy
grows, it grows for everybody and not just for
some, and certainly not just for a few at the very top. So, we are all in this
together. I think you can tell, I’m
pretty excited about today. I know our next speaker
shares my passion and enthusiasm. We have worked on this
together. I’m not going to call him my
partner in crime, because we’re not committing any
crimes here. (laughter) But we do spend an awful lot
of time together, trying to figure out what we can do
collectively to move our country forward. We often say now, “It’s the
fourth quarter of the presidency, but I’ve always
known the President was a really good fourth quarter
player. But he can’t play at the top
of his game without each and every one of you. So, we know you’re all busy. The fact that you made time
to come here and be with us today gives us encouragement
that we really are going to figure out how the country
that we know and love is the one where the worker’s voice
is paramount, where the worker’s voice is supreme,
and where business recognize how vitally important it is
for them to listen to that important voice. So with that, please welcome
the Secretary of Labor, my hero, Tom Perez. Have fun. (applause) Tom Perez: Oh, yeah. All right. Good morning. (applause) Good morning. It’s an honor to have
all of you here. It’s an honor to have our
fellow members of Congress here. It’s an honor to have
workers here. It’s an honor to have
business leaders, labor leaders, serial activists — (laughter) — and so many more. You know, people keep asking
me, you know, “Whose idea was this?” Here’s the answer to that
question. It was the President’s idea,
because I remember vividly sitting with Valerie, and
the President, and others talking about as Valerie
points out, the progress that we’re making as a
nation. And talking at the same time
about the unfinished business, the understanding
that we all succeed when we all succeed, but we all
succeed only when we all succeed. And you know, there is
understanding across and ideological spectrum that
we’ve got unfinished business. You know, you read what
people say across the spectrum. You know, Lloyd Blankfein,
“too much GDP over the last generation has gone to too
few of the people.” Janet Yellen, “The extent of
growing increase in inequality in the United
States greatly concerns me,” and we know this. We see this, and in my job I
make house calls, and every single day I make house
calls and I see the frustrations of workers, the
frustrations of businesses. And I met with some workers
last night. And they’re on my mind. And to a person I asked
them, the last question I asked them was, “What
frustrates you most about your current situation?” And they said, “You know,
I feel powerless. There’s nobody to
speak up for me.” These aren’t my words. These are their words. “I don’t have a
legitimate voice.” “The deck is stacked.” These aren’t my
words, again. These are what I hear, and
everywhere I go it’s clear to me that while we have
made progress, we can do better. We can do better than what I
saw recently in Detroit, where I met with fast food
workers, and one of the workers I met with, the
night before she had slept in her car with her three
children. We can do better than that. We can do better. When I go to Connecticut and
I meet Coreen , a bus driver who just gave birth, and
because of the absence of paid leave she took her
newborn with her on her school bus route. We can do better than that. We can do better than the
person I met who said, “You know, I make choices between
a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas.” That’s not who we are as
Americans. We can do better in so
many different ways, and you know what? It just doesn’t have to be
like this, and that’s why the President wanted to have
this day together. Ordinarily, we’d come out
and we roll out a few ideas that we have, or a few
initiatives. What we’re doing today is
continuing the conversation. Hashtag start the convo, and
for you this isn’t a start. This is a continuation of a
very, very important conversation. And the good news
is in my travels. I not only hear the
frustrations, I see the success stories. I go to a Ford plant in
Louisville. I see the partnership
between the UAW and the Ford Motor Company. In 2007 and 2008, they were
on the verge of closure, but coming together around a
vision of shared sacrifices leading to shared prosperity
they went from about 800 employees to 4,400 now
because they came together. They understood that when
workers and business workers, when workers have a
voice they understood the power of collective
bargaining to bring around a result that could work for
everyone, the win/win solutions. And as a kid who grew up in
Buffalo, New York, I saw the power firsthand of
collective bargaining, and I see the power of voice
everywhere I go. I see the power of people
like Tom Kartsotis, the founder of Shinola. He had this audacious idea
that we could make things like watches, and bicycles,
and leather goods, in the city of Detroit. And you go there now, and
there’s a hop in the step of folks in his factory. One of the people who’s his
quality control officer, I met her. She was sweeping the floors
there, and she said, “Would you give me a chance,
because I’ve got game?” And you know what? They gave her a chance. And she does have game. And she’s the quality
control officer. So, I see success. I see success everywhere I
go. I see these partnerships in
action, and you know what? People are doing better, but
we can do better, and we must do more. And that is what today is
about, because you know what? The people in this room, the
people in this nation, we all succeed when we all
succeed, and the unfinished business is the business of
shared prosperity. And I see people all over
the place who understand that it’s a false choice to
suggest that you either take care of your worker or you
take care of your bottom line. It’s a false choice to
suggest that I either have a safe workplace or a
profitable workplace. Nobody who goes to work in
the morning should come home with an injury, plain and
simple. Smart business leaders
understand that, and unions have worked hard to protect
the right to a safe work environment. And you know what? That’s how we can continue
to do better, and that’s what today is about. You shouldn’t have to win
the boss lottery to get access to basic protections. And for all too many people
that’s what’s happening. And so, what we’re going to
do today is have a conversation. And it’s going to be a
challenging conversation. I predict that during the
course of the day today you will be at times exceedingly
frustrated. You will be exceedingly
saddened. You will be exceedingly
maddened at times, and I predict equally that you
will be inspired at times, because you know what? As I travel this country, I
see remarkable people doing remarkable things. I see folks doing what John
Lewis said, causing good trouble, good trouble on
behalf of bringing together that American vision of
shared prosperity. I see people trying to
organize, sometimes successfully, sometimes not,
but always continuing that struggle. I see businesses and workers
coming together around the success vision of shared
prosperity. I see people like Sarita
whom you’ll hear from shortly, and so many others,
organizing folks in unique ways. And so I’m confident. I’m not just confident. I am certain that you will
be inspired, but we cannot ignore the storm clouds. You’ll hear from school
teachers. You’ll hear from other
public sector employees who are taking it on the chin. You know, one candidate for
President said, “You know, the teachers union deserves
a punch in the face.” That’s conduct unbecoming
any public official. You know that? (applause) I’m a public school parent,
and I’m a proud public school parent. And my teachers stay after
school to help my kids, and do you know what? I want them to do that. I don’t want them to have to
get a second job because of this assault on public
sector unions. I want them to be able to do
the job they need to do, which is teach our kids, and
build a system. And I want our home health
care workers to do the same. I want our other public
sector workers to do the same, and that’s why today
the conversation is about how we can elevate voice,
how we can build an America that works. And again, we’ve made a very
deliberate choice at the President’s direction, to
build a broad audience. And you’ll see that today in
this first panel, and you’ll see it throughout the day. And again, you may agree
with some of the things people say. You may disagree with other
things. That’s not the point. The point is to continue
this conversation, and to move, and to make progress
because we want to make sure that we address this
unfinished business. This is what keeps people up
at night. This issue of shared
prosperity, and when people have a voice in the
workplace workers succeed, businesses succeed, America
succeeds. So, let’s begin that
conversation right now. We’ve got a great panel
here. We’ve got great panels
throughout the day, and by the way you know, if you’re
going to be attending the end of the day session with
the President, it’s not us asking him questions. You’d better be prepared if
you’re in that audience for him to ask you questions,
because that’s what he wanted to do, to have a
conversation about how we build an America that works
for everyone, understanding that we can do better. We must do better, and I’m
confident we will do better. So, let’s start this
conversation. I’m really looking forward
to having our colleagues in, and let me welcome our first
panel. So, why don’t you
come on in, guys. (applause) Our first panel is going to
really help us to understand again, the challenges and
opportunities that we have here across America. Let me introduce — I will
start — I’ll just go right from my left, and go
all the way around. Sen. Michael Sanchez is
representing District 29, and Bernalillo and Valencia
Counties, and then New Mexico State
Senate since 1993. He is an attorney in his
other day job, and he currently serves as the
majority leader of the senate in the state
of New Mexico. To his right is Sarita
Gupta, who is the executive director of Jobs with
Justice, and the co-director of carrying across
generations. Jobs with Justice brings
together labor, community, student, and faith voices at
the national and local levels, to create innovate
solutions to the problems confronting working families
across the country. Ambereen Khan-Baker is a
teacher at Rockville High School in Montgomery County,
Maryland, where she currently teaches AP
language and composition. She’s also an ambassador for
the Montgomery Institute, a partnership between the
National Education Association and the
Montgomery County Education Association, where she works
with teacher leaders across the country on collaborative
problem solving, to improve the quality of teaching
and learning. To her immediate left is
Greg Adams, who is the Executive Vice President and
Group President of Kaiser Permanente. He has the responsibility
for the Northern California Region. He’s also the chair of the
California Hospital Association, and a member of
the board of the California Chamber of Commerce. To his immediate left is Joe
Schmidt, who is the operations supervisor at
Demoulas Supermarkets Inc., which is the parent company
of Market Basket, a 75 store chain based in Tewksbury,
Massachusetts. Joe has a similar story to
many of the associates working at Market Basket. He was 14 years old when he
started at Market Basket, and he was one of the people
who was fired for speaking out when the CEO of the
company was deposed and then later brought back. The story of Market Basket
is a very, very interesting and important story to tell,
and last but certainly not least, Robert Hathorn is an
auto worker at the Nissan Plant in Canton,
Mississippi. He lives there with his wife
and his daughter. He spent the first two years
there as a temporary employee, and his transition
to his — what’s called a Pathways program, and he
will tell you his journey through the Nissan plants. So Sarita, I’m going to
start with you, if I can because you have spent your
— seemingly your entire professional life working to
address the challenges confronting low wage
workers, working in partnership with business,
working in partnership with our friends in organized
labor. You’ve seen the frontline
challenges confronting the low wage workers. You’ve helped forge many of
the solutions that have helped people get voice in
the workplace. Tell us what you see from
the front lines, from both the perspective of the
challenges, the opportunities, the solutions
that you’ve been able to forge, and the unfinished
business that you see. Sarita Gupta: Great, thank
you so much. First of all, I just want to
thank you for organizing this amazing summit. It’s really terrific to be
here, and I appreciate the invitation to share some
thoughts. Let me start by saying it’s
really an inspiring time. As challenging as it is for
working people, I am very hopeful and inspired by just
the growing numbers of working men and women who
are in fact exercising their collective voice right now
for change. I think it’s important for
us to remember that the strongest form of worker
voice really comes with union representation, right? (applause) Yeah, you should clap, and
unions and collective bargaining grant workers the
protection really that they need in order to express
their voice on the job. So, we know we need to both
protect and expand workers’ access to these protections,
and we also need to think of new frameworks given the
realities of our economy today, and the real
obstacles that workers face when trying to exercise
their right to form a union. You know, I’ve heard so many
and countless stories of working men and women who
have experienced incredible retaliation when trying to
express their voice on the job. So, we know that given that
reality and the fact that we have more and more part
time, and temporary, and subcontracted work in our
economy, it really means that there’s huge
limitations to how many workers today can actually
access the model of collective bargaining rights
that we have currently. So given that, it’s
inspiring to see movements of workers who are in fact
exercising collective action, whether it’s
domestic workers, or it’s home care workers, whether
it’s restaurant workers, taxi workers, you know,
adjunct faculty members. I mean, there’s endless
examples of what we see happening right now, and
really what’s inspiring about it is working men and
women asserting their right to a better life, right? Because that’s what it’s
really fundamentally about, and the right to their
voice, and their power to shape the economy and our
democracy. So given all of that, you
know, all of the different examples of great organizing
we see out there, I think this idea of how we expand
workers’ ability, how do we like, the way I talk about
it is how we broaden the theater for organizing, how
we broaden the theater for the ways in which workers
can come together and collectively negotiate over
there conditions. It is what we need to do,
and I just want to close with just sharing an example
of from San Francisco that we recently worked on at
Jobs of Justice. It was one of the key issues
we’ve learned is that too many workers today face
erratic schedules. Could you imagine? Just imagine for a second if
you have no idea when you’re going to work again. How do you plan for child
care? How do you plan for elder
care, medical appointments, or how do you look your kid
in the face and say, “I think I can promise I’ll
make it to your soccer game?” And so we realize that this
is a growing issue, and so, in San Francisco workers
came together, unions, community based
organizations, worker centers, to say, “How do we
take this issue of scheduling that we know
workers are bringing up with their employers,” and bring
it into a public sphere. And have a city-wide
conversation about it, and through that effort we in
fact won predictable and fair schedules for 40,000
working women and men in the retail sector in San
Francisco. (applause) Yeah, we should clap. It was an enormous victory,
but what made it so incredible was not just that
we won that policy. You see, it was actually
that union and non-union workers together understood
that we can have — we can win so much when we stand
together and have a one collective voice. People got to actually build
their muscle together of taking collective action,
and I think that’s really — we’ve got to keep finding
pathways in which we can help make that happen more
often, so working people in this country really can in
fact shape our economy and our democracy moving
forward. Tom Perez: Great. Thank you, and your
reference to union organizing and collective
action is a good segue to Greg at Kaiser. Greg, you and your
workforce, you are represented by a number of
unions, and you have a strong history of working
together with your unions. Talk about what’s been the
value proposition of that? How has that worked for
Kaiser’s bottom line, for Kaiser’s corporate culture? How has that worked? Greg Adams: Sure. So, ours is a story that
really starts with labor. We are I think the nation’s
leading if not the world’s leading integrated delivery
system. We started with Henry J. Kaiser, Cindy Garfield who
really saw a different way of providing health care. The goal was to really pay
providers for prevention, not for sick care. It started during World War
II, shipbuilding, the Hoover Dam. When that was over, Henry
Kaiser was going to kind of abolish the health plan. The labor organizations
approached him and said, “No, this is good care. We want it,” and so, we were
formed in some ways out of our relationship with labor. And our early growth really
grew as a result of organized labor coming to us
and saying, “We need and want you in various
locations.” In 1997, we had a really —
actually a few years leading up to 1987, we had really
difficult times in terms of relationships between
management and labor. We were struggling
financially. Our leadership, management
leadership, labor leaders got together and literally
talked about there’s got to be a better way to do this,
and made a commitment to a labor management partnership
that really defined how we would own one another’s
interest and be committed to one another’s success. I think at the core of that
is a value that says we respect and want to hear the
voice of our employees, rather labor or non-labor,
organized or not, management or an employee, that we
respect and value the role that labor plays in
representing our employees. In 2005, we came together in
one of our national bargaining sessions, which
are really quite amazing because we have hundreds of
employees that come together for days, and really meet to
agree on our collective bargaining agreement. And it starts with everybody
being equal. I mean, I sit and engage
with employees from all over our company. We start with one of our
interests, one of the interests of the
organization, the interest of the employees, and we own
those. And we work through those. And then, we come out of
that process with an agreement that we all own,
and that we all lead throughout the period of the
agreement. I think when we look at the
success that we’ve had over the past few years
especially, we’re growing. We are 10 million and
growing strong, as we like to say. We are the leader in price,
quality, best place to work in all of our markets, and
at the core of it we actually have a concept that
we’ve created in 2005, that we refer to as a unit based
team. And a unit based team is
actually kind of a natural working group of employees. It can be a department. It can be a team that’s
actually together. It can be a specialty
division, and those groups are resourced and actually
trained on performance improvement processes. So, it’s not just a group of
people coming together. They come together. They have skills. They have resources in terms
of data. We today have 4,000 unit
based teams in place across our organization. They’re working on upwards
of 7,000 performance, and they are working on quality. They’re working on service. They’re working on our being
affordable, and it’s serious work. We just about did an
assessment of 750 teams over an 18 month period. They had achieved savings
for the organization of upwards of $20 million. And these teams — and we
talk about savings, but our philosophy is that quality
first, and if we drive quality then we absolutely
drive service. And we achieve
affordability. And so, we have teams. One for example in our Los
Angeles medical center that reduced the length of stay
for cardiac patients, and these are nurses,
physicians, EVS workers, everybody coming together
and owning what needs to be done. So, they reduced the length
of the stay for these patients, better care,
better quality, and saved $6 million. And I could just go on and
on in terms of our employees coming together, identifying
solutions around care, quality, service, and really
addressing those solutions. I would also say that’s the
partnership, but we also as an organization are
committed to collaborating with unions and our
employees, whether they’re in the partnership or not. And much of our values
around interest really rolls over into relationship with
all of our unions, and we are very committed. And we bring forward or they
bring forward this whole concept of being committed
to interests. I was telling someone and
I’ll be brief with this, that last night I was
sitting kind of on my email, dealing with work and kind
of anxious about today. And an email popped up from
a group of EVS, Environmental Service
workers, and housekeepers, cleaning individuals from
our Antioch Medical Center. And I got chills because the
email was to me. And it said, “Mr. Adams, Greg, we are dealing
with this particular issue. We’ve been working it in
partnership and it’s not moving. And we know you’re committed
to our partnership. And we’re asking you for
your help.” I sent an email to one of
our leaders. Asked them to engage, send
an email back to the team saying, because I’ve got a
meeting on Thursday. And I think that what I
would say about that is, you know, it’s great that they
emailed me, but we try to create a culture where
regardless of where people are in the organization, we
celebrate their raising issues. We celebrate hearing their
voices, and at the end of the day we are leading in
quality. We’re leading in service. We’re leading in
affordability, and we’re committed to doing more, and
it is because we have employees that not only own
the vision, but are involved daily in helping our
organization really live into the vision. Tom Perez: Thank you, Greg,
and that’s actually a good segue to Ambereen, who is a
school teacher. Why’d you get into teaching? Ambereen Khan-Baker: Goo
morning. My name is Ambereen
Khan-Baker and I teach at Rockville High School, in
Montgomery County, Maryland. And this is my 11th year
teaching. So growing up, I had
struggled with my identity. My parents immigrated here
40 years ago from Pakistan, and they really wanted me to
go to college. And I didn’t know how. I didn’t necessarily have
the resources to get there. My parents didn’t know what
a college application looked like, what FAFSA, what did
that mean? They didn’t know that, and
so if I really wanted to go, I was on my own, and I was
really involved in student leadership in high school. That’s what engaged me in
school, and opened a lot of opportunities for me. And one of my teachers, he
sat me down, Mr. Hunt . He sat me down one day and
he handed me an application to an American university. And he told me, “Ambereen,
this is where you need to go. This is where you belong.” And so, I applied, and I got
in. I got a scholarship that
covered 80 percent of my tuition, and while he showed
me, you know, he helped me open that door. It was up to me to walk my
path, and so when I started teaching I saw that my
students faced the same struggles and challenges
that I did. Their parents don’t
necessarily have the resources, the tools to get
them to college. And so, that’s part of my
job. I work with my students on a
daily basis in the classroom. I look over their college
application essays, which is what we’re doing
right now, and — Tom Perez: I’m
familiar with that. (laughter) Ambereen Khan-Baker: And you
know, there’s so many questions that
students have. They don’t necessarily have
the answers, and so you know, there’s a lot of
discussions on how do you get a student there. So, that’s the biggest
reason why I became a teacher. Tom Perez: Tell me about the
Montgomery Institute, which was I think a partnership
between the National Education Association — Ambereen Khan-Baker:
(affirmative) Tom Perez: — and the
Montgomery County Education Association? Ambereen Khan-Baker: The
Montgomery Institute is basically groups of teachers
across the country. They come to Montgomery
County, Maryland, and they’re with our
association. And they learn how the
partnership between our union and our district, they
learn how collaborative we are, and how do we do that. And what kind of programs we
have, in place, and certain structures we have in place. So, they learn all of that
information, but they sort of focus on a one particular
issue that they want to address in their own
district. And so, they come up with an
action plan, something they can take back home. But they also focus on their
narrative. How are they getting that
issue addressed? How are they telling their
stories? And so, that’s something
that we really focus on with the Montgomery Institute,
because narratives are very important. Teachers need to get their
stories out there, because that’s how we can address
our students’ needs. Tom Perez: How has your
involvement in the teacher’s union helped you as a
teacher, and how has it helped your students in the
learning process? Ambereen Khan-Baker: The
skills I learn outside the classroom I bring directly
into the classroom. So, the teacher I am today I
definitely was not when I first started teaching. Tom Perez: (affirmative) Ambereen Khan-Baker: And for
one example, I work with teachers in our district. I mentor them. I teach teachers how to
become mentors, and so, one way I do that is that I sit
down in a session, and I teach them how to use
probing and clarifying questions to get another
teacher to analyze and describe their lesson. And to reflect on their
lesson, because we really want to improve the teaching
and learning conditions of our students. So, I teach them that, and
there’s a lot of strategies with that. And I take what I do with
teachers directly into my classroom. I teach English. So, my students write essays
all the time, and you know in particular, one of my
students, Manuela , she would come to me every
single week with her essay, and she’d give me her essay
at lunch. And ask me, “Ms. Khan, what do you think is
wrong with this essay,” and “What do you think?” And I’d sit down with her
because I want her to understand and for her to
reach her own conclusions about her writing. So, I use the same probing
and clarifying questions with her, and you know, in
our discussion there’s this moment that her face would
just light up. And she’d have that ah-ha
moment, that magical moment when a student has grasped a
concept. And you know, right there I
could see, “Okay, she understood.” She knew what she needed to
do next, and I had her for two years. And in those two years I
could see her self confidence building and her
writing skills improving. And it’s really because of
these techniques. And it’s directly what I’ve
learned in all of my projects with our union. So, whatever I’ve learned
outside of the classroom and whatever projects,
opportunities I have with our union, whatever skills I
learn I just take that directly into the classroom,
which has directly impacted my students. Tom Perez: When you add up
all the hours you spend, not just going to school during
school, and all the things you’re doing after school,
grading papers, mentoring, et cetera, what’s a typical
workweek for you? Ambereen Khan-Baker: Oh,
probably at least 60 plus hours a week. Tom Perez: A labor of love. (crosstalk) Ambereen Khan-Baker:
(inaudible) definitely. Tom Perez: Judging from your
body language, it sounds like a labor of love. Ambereen Khan-Baker:
Definitely. Tom Perez: Great. Robert, welcome. It’s good to have you here. Is this your first trip to
the White House? Robert Hathorn (? ) : It is my first trip to the
White House. Tom Perez: (laughs) Are you a little bit
nervous? Robert Hathorn: No sir, not
at all. Tom Perez: Excellent. That’s great. (applause) Hey, Robert. Robert, you live in
Mississippi? Robert Hathorn: Yes sir, I
live in Mississippi. Tom Perez: Okay, and you
work at the Nissan plant? Robert Hathorn: Yes sir, I
do. Tom Perez: Great. What’s that button you got
on there? Robert Hathorn: This button
right here on my jacket is a saying that we’ve got. It’s a saying from the
Lord’s Prayer. “Lead us not into
temp-nation.” Tom Perez: (laughs) (applause) Why don’t you tell the story
that leads you to that button, Robert? Robert Hathorn: Okay. All right, good morning. How are you all doing? Audience: Great. Robert Hathorn: That’s good. I want to begin by saying
thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be here
today to share my story. I’m really honored to be
invited by Secretary Perez to be a part of this family
and speak at the White House. I was born and raised in
Jackson, Mississippi. I attended Calloway High
School and I’m a proud father of a six-year-old
daughter. I also attend Anderson
United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. Currently I work at the
Nissan plant in Kent, Mississippi. I’m a production technician
working in the light commercial vehicle
department on the frame line. My job is to assemble the
frame to the engine all the way to the rear axle. I work hard and I’m very
proud of the work I do. I know my co-workers and I
produce good quality vehicles. I began working at Nissan
but as an employee of Kelly Services. I worked almost two years
before I was transitioned over to become a Nissan
employee through the Pathways Program. The Pathways Program moves
workers from working for Kelly Services to actually
working for Nissan, but as a Perma-Temp, or a permanent
temporary worker. That means although I’ve
been transferred from Kelly services over to a Nissan
employee I’m still making the same pay that I was when
I was a Temporary Worker for Kelly Services. I make $14 and hour now and
I will top out after five years at only $18.35. Nissan workers earn $24 an
hour. Our Kelly Services and
Pathway workers work side by side with fulltime Nissan
workers doing the same job, but top out at a much lower
pay and benefits. In fact, we have to work 70
hours to earn what a Nissan worker does by doing the
same job working at 40 hours. We even had to train higher
paid workers to do the same job we already know. In my mind it’s not fair. This is one of the main
reasons I’m having to organize a union at the
Nissan plant. (applause) And several other reasons
I’m having to form a union in Mississippi at the
Nissan. And they include. Number one, health and
safety. Many other jobs are
physically demanding and there are lots of injuries. Engine workers are not
treated fairly and many are forced to the same job that
they were hurt on. Number two, all (inaudible) should be treated the same
as Nissan workers. Since we all work for the
same company, doing the same job, the pay should be the
same. Finally, I want a voice at
work. This is one of the main
reasons I want a union as employees. We want to be heard not
dictated to. But sadly, both Kelly and
Nissan workers face a lot of threats as workers trying to
organize a union. Workers are threatened by
management at the union and often told that the plant
will close and move to Mexico if the union comes
in. When I was hired by Kelly, I
was even threatened by management and told never to
speak the word union or else I’d be terminated. When I went to cast my vote
for President of the United States, I voted for Barrack
Obama twice. And no one threatened me. But with the union vote,
there are many threats at Nissan. And Mississippi has a long
history of fighting for the right to vote without
threats and fear. Labor rights are civil
rights. (applause) And in closing I want to
thank you again for the opportunity. I never imagined in my
lifetime that I’d be invited to the White House and speak
on such an important matter. And before I go, I want to
leave ya’ll with a slogan one more time off a phrase
from the Lord’s Prayer. As you can see I am wearing
a button with this slogan, “Nissan, lead us not into
temp nation.” Let me say it one more time (laughs) , “Nissan, lead us not into
temp nation.” (applause) Thomas Perez: Robert, quick
— I want to ask one — I had the privilege of sitting
with you yesterday and the thing I remembered the most
and I wanted to just draw it out a little bit. When you were telling me
about when you had to train a permanent worker recently
using one of the machines where you had — obviously
they had enough trust in you so you’re training a
permanent worker who, I assume, is making more than
you. Male Speaker: Right. On our line we have several
different workers and it’s, it’s mixed between the
Pathway, Kelly, and fulltime. Doing throughout the day we
have, like, four job rotations. Not everybody knows how to
do the same job. So, myself and others, we
have many issues where we’ve been training the fulltime
workers, even the Kelly people, Kelly services, they
have trained these fulltime workers to do the same
thing. And it goes throughout the
whole plant on all the lines. Thomas Perez: What was going
through your head when you were training that fulltime
worker? Male Speaker: I said, “Wow.” (laughter) Thomas Perez: (laughs) Okay. Great. (laughter) Joe, let me turn to you
because the story of Market Basket really captivated the
nation. And I had the privilege of
meeting, you know, with you and many of your colleagues
a little over a year ago when I was following this
story. And you started — and what
I remember about the employees I met from Market
Basket — I met a number of different folks up and down
the chain — they started in their teens and they stayed
there for life. And you’re one of them. So I know the story of
Market Basket. You lived the story of
Market Basket. But many people don’t know
the story of what happened. So, could you give us maybe
the three minute version of that? And then I might have a
follow-up question or two. Male Speaker: Sure, with
pleasure. Labor Secretary Perez,
distinguished members of the panel, and audience, good
morning. It’s an honor to be here
today representing our hard working 25,000 associates
that work together at Market Basket, the hundreds of
vendors that we work with each day and our 2 million
customers that we serve each week. Market Basket is a food
store that was established in 1917 by hard working
Greek immigrants that came to this country in search of
opportunity. Today we operate three
distribution centers, 75 grocery stores, with annual
sales approaching $5 billion in the three great states of
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. The Market Basket business
model is simple. Offer the lowest prices,
provide great service with the best overall value
without sacrificing freshness, quality, or
variety in the overall shopping experience. We believe in operating a
reputable and socially responsible business with
the right balance doing what is in the best interest of
all stakeholders. Our “people first” culture,
which was established by the late Mr. T.A. DeMoulas, who was our
company President for almost 70 years, is based on
respect for all. Part of respecting
associates includes them sharing in the success of
the company through a solid pay structure, bonus program
and profit sharing retirement program. Equally important, it
involves assisting others with achieving their goals
within the organization. On June 23rd, 2014, our
President, Mr. Aurthur T. DeMoulas, was fired by a
newly elected majority board of directors who, in our
opinion, attempted to destroy the Market Basket
culture. The objective of the
majority board was to create liquidity at the expense of
stakeholders without any care for the business model
itself by raising prices, extracting cash that was put
aside to grow the company, changing the profit sharing
program, halting capital spending and hiring people
from outside of the organization. As a result, associates at
company headquarters banded together and respectfully
placed two newly hired co-COs on notice. They were informed that we
would not be taking direction from them due to
their association with the board and that associates
wanted Mr. Arthur T. DeMoulas and the Market
Basket philosophy reinstated. With silence from the board
pertaining to our requests, warehouse workers, truck
drivers, and office associates walked out with a
solidarity and pledged not to return until our
President returned. The CEOs immediately took
action and fired eight key associates who were
responsible for organizing one of our first rallies on
July 18th with the thought that this would cause
everybody to go back to work. This was a major
miscalculation about the Market Basket family. Within hours 25,000
associates stopped working, vendors stopped delivering
products, state representatives became
involved, and our highly valued customers boycotted
our stores. (applause) Sales plunged 90 percent
within days and the company was essentially shut down. What the Board failed to
recognized was that Market Basket is accompany of the
people and for the people. The community was not going
to let that be taken away. For six weeks, customers,
associates and suppliers stood together, shoulder to
shoulder in support for each other. The people’s voice was heard
and togetherness made a difference. In late August Mr. Arthur T. DeMoulas and his family
acquired the remaining shares of the company and
re-instated the Market Basket institution that we
know, love and care deeply about. The moment the deal was
finalized associated rushed back to work, some in the
middle of the night. Within days our company was
back online with most impressive fashion as our
customers returned immediately. It was clear that something
of great importance had occurred in the region and
in this nation. Why is the Market Basket
model successful? And why did this summer have
a positive outcome? The answer is being in the
people business first and the grocery business second. And that the power of the
people is greater than the people that have the power. (applause) Mr. Arthur T. DeMoulas has a strong belief
in a guiding philosophy of Market Basket and I quote,
“No one person is better and more important than another
and no one person holds a position of privilege. We are all equal.” Last year’s events displayed
people working together with the common bond of ensuring
the continuance of a socially responsible
company. When people work together
all things may be accomplished. We are proud to be here
today, proud to be an American company, and proud
of the preservation of the American dream. Customers, associates and
all stakeholders are proud to say that we are Market
Basket, a company that is grateful to be a part of the
community. Thank you. (applause) Thomas Perez: Thank you,
Joe. In a moment I’m going to get
back — when I double back after our last speaker — I
want to talk more about the issue of culture. And ask a few questions
about culture and voice and how we bring that together. But I want to turn to the
very patient Majority Leader to my left, Senator Sanchez. You’ve been in the front
lines in New Mexico and we wouldn’t be here today if
everything was hunky dory. There have been a lot of
challenges out there and, you know, one of the
challenges has been that, you know, in a number of
states where there has been historically the right to
organize, there have been efforts to change that. And you were at the tip of
the spear in terms of some legislation that was
authorized — or that was proposed recently to make
New Mexico a so- called Right to Work state. Tell us the anatomy of that
and people tend to read about the stories of Right
to Work legislation that passed. Often ignored are examples
of Right to Work Legislation that did not pass, and New
Mexico is that story. So, tell us that story. Michael Sanchez: Well, first
of all let me just thank you, Mr. Secretary, for
having me here. I’m actually very nervous so
— and I’m just proud as can be to be with these
panelists. They’re a distinguished
group and I’m honored to be with each and every one of
them. I’ve got to thank you and
the President as well for calling this summit. I heard you earlier say that
it was the President’s idea and I believe the President
has a lot of good ideas and this is one of the best
ideas around. I have to tell you, I don’t
call it the RTW. I call it the Anti-Worker
Legislation. And that’s what it is —
it’s anti-worker legislation. (applause) And in New Mexico, just a
brief history for all of you, New Mexico has been a
democratic health state for many, many years. We now have a republican
governor and we lost the House of Representatives
this last year after 50-some years of control. So with that the proponents
of the Anti-Worker Legislation really believed
that they could force it down the throat of the
Senate. And they used every angle
they could. They introduced seven pieces
of legislation. Those bills were referred —
I get to refer bills to the committees — I referred
them to committees that I knew were very strong and
had legislators in there who believed in the unions and
they knew the truth about the Anti-Worker Bills. We refer those bills to our
Public Affairs Committee, which is chaired by a
gentleman by the name of Jerry Ortisipino , and we
had a fabulous group in that committee who were able to
hold those bills in the committee. And we call it tabling,
which basically means those bills stay in the committee. We also referred it to the
Senate Judiciary Committee which I am also a member of
and those bills never got that far. But the proponents used
every procedural legislative angle they could to try to
bring that — or those bills — down to the floor of the
Senate. Those procedural moves are
to have a motion on the floor of the senate to bring
it out of the committee, which is against our rules,
which we don’t generally do. We follow our process and
procedure. We make sure that our bills
go to the committee so they’re vetted properly. And we respect the committee
process. Well, there were at least
three different times that I can remember that the
proponents tried to bring those bills out of the
committee to the floor of the New Mexico State Senate. And they were defeated
soundly by the majority of democrats on the floor. We were able to hold them up
in committee. Those bills never hit the
floors. And I will just tell
everyone in this room, even though there were some
doubts as to whether or not we would vote against the
Anti-Worker Bills, we had enough votes on the floor
that if it had come down — those bills had come down —
they would have been defeated soundly. We would have won that
battle. But I’ve got to tell you,
the battle’s not over. I will guarantee you that
this next legislative session, which is our 30-day
legislative session, the proponents of these
anti-worker bills will be back. And they are sponsored by
out of state big corporations who really
don’t care about workers’ rights. They don’t care that those
people in anti-worker states make less than 7,000 than
the union people make. They don’t care that there
is insurance that protects those workers. They don’t care about
pensions. All the care about — and I
heard you mention it earlier — is the bottom line and
making the most instead of taking care of those
workers. What we tried to do in New
Mexico to try to let the public know that these were
anti-worker bills and legislation was to tell them
the truth about what it really stood for. And once the public heard
it, and it’s hard to get it out when you have the bully
pulpit and you’re not on the news cycle 24/7, it’s really
hard to get the word out. But our labor brothers and
sisters worked with us to organize. We went on the radio, we did
editorial spots, we did some TV commercials. Our public sector union
members — our police men, our fire fighters, our
teachers — all worked with us to make sure that the
public was educated and knew exactly what they were
trying to do. One of the things that
always bothered me though, I will tell you — and this is
for our business friends — they used the chambers of
commerce to really try to put pressure on each
legislator. And the chambers were so
misguided because they just weren’t thinking this
through to understand that if you have a happy
employee, your business is going to prosper more than
anything else and not worrying about that bottom
line, but making sure that people are taken care of,
making sure their families are fed, not having to worry
about how they’re going to pay the bills. Their businesses will proper
like never before. But for some reason our
chambers just didn’t want to see that and they were
convinced by the misinformation that they
were given, that this type of legislation would be an
economic development tool. And we know from the experts
that it doesn’t enhance economic development in any
states. Big business, small
businesses don’t look to see whether you are an
anti-worker state or not. They look for other factors. And those factors we made
sure that the public knew and we were very happy with
the end result. And I have to tell you, I’m
just very proud of our Senate democrats who stood
strong. They stood together. “The Power of One,” if
anybody has ever read the book, that’s what the New
Mexico State Senate Democrats did. We held firm. We were not going to be
intimidated. We were not going to be
threatened. We were not going to be
bribed into letting this piece of legislation go
through. So, I’m really proud of what
we did in the New Mexico State Senate. (applause) Thomas Perez: Thank you very
much. Now, you said something,
Senator, that is actually born out of emerging body of
research. Which is that when workers
have a meaningful voice in the work place, it creates a
virtuous cycle of bottom line success, success for
workers, success for customers, success for the
community. I was at the Duke Business
School a while back and we were talking about this. And meaningful voice comes
in a number of different ways. We see even on this panel,
there are different models of ensuring that workers
have a meaningful voice. And what’s remarkable is
that when you have that understanding, and that’s a
first cousin of creating culture and that’s what I
heard from a lot of people here. If you have good culture,
you can create a virtuous cycle. The opposite can be true as
well. And so I really want to
focus on culture here for few minutes. And ask a couple of you a
couple of questions on culture. You know, Ambereen , I’ve
been a Montgomery County parent for 14 years running. And a proud public school
parent. And what is the culture that
you have sought to create in your school setting? Not just in the classroom,
but through your involvement with the union. And how has it been, you
know, manifested through concrete results? Female Speaker: We, you
know, we have a very collaborative nature in
Montgomery County and I think one thing we’ve been
focusing on is our narrative. Telling our stories, telling
the story of us, because there’s a lot of other
voices out there and there’s a lot of people speaking on
behalf of teachers. And teachers — we are
working with students firsthand. We know our students’ needs
and so we — this is where we are right now. We’re trying to build that
narrative and let people know this — you know, our
stories. Thomas Perez: Let me play
devil’s advocate for a moment. There are some out there who
say teachers and teachers’ unions are just looking out
for their own selves, their own hide, and they’re not
looking out for students. And I would extrapolate that
to other public sector workers and that’s part of
the narrative. When you hear that, when you
learn that at least one Presidential candidate wants
to punch union heads somewhere in the body, I
don’t know where. I didn’t quite — I didn’t
ask the question but I’ll get specific if necessary. You know, how does that make
you feel? Female speaker: Yeah, you
know, that’s very negative of course. And so, you know, I have to
speak from my personal experience in that the union
has helped me, has opened opportunities for me, has
helped me become a teacher leader and that directly
affects my students. You now, a particular
example, in our union we work to seek out teachers
and cultivate them as leaders and have them
identify their voices and have them acknowledge their
experiences and share their experiences. And so, when I do the same
things with my students in Yearbuck , I work with my
students to cultivate them as student leaders. And so that’s pretty much
the work that I — that I focus on. Thomas Perez: Great. Now, Greg, how would you —
if you had to give, in two sentences or three
sentences, describe the culture of Kaiser, how would
you describe the culture of Kaiser and the role of
worker engagement in creating that culture. Male speaker: Sure. It’s hard for me to do
anything in two to three sentences, but I’ll try. (laughter) Kaiser has always been this
amazing inclusive organization. It just is. The CEO of our organization
keeps the American flag on his desk and any meeting
room he’s in and he waves it. And he waves it because he
is saying he wants a diversity of voices and he
articulates in the organization that he wants a
diversity of voices coming up from within the
organization. I think — we’re not
perfect, I mean it’s — I mean we talk about people
having kind of drank the Kaiser Kool Aid because it
is an amazing organization to come into. A lot people don’t do well,
especially leaders because they’re not used to that
we’re empowered when our staff are empowered. So, I mean, you know,
healthcare and (inaudible) more than three are very
hierarchical and we’re intent on kind of breaking
through those levels of hierarchy and making sure
that our employees, everybody, has a sense of —
and understand how they are able to communicate. And, you know, I would say
then I’ll be quiet, is that being challenged by an
employee, I mean, being offered another perspective
— it goes back to the experience with Market
Basket. You know, we only lead if
people are following, and we — I have a personal believe
that people will give us permission to lead them. And so we, as an
organization, really are connected to our emp — not
only our employees’ voice, but or employees helping us
own this culture because it is about what they
experience. We can define whatever we
want to say this is our culture, but our employees
— what they experience in the organization is what
they understand to be the culture of the organization. So it’s about creating
experiences that really unleashes their potential
and gives them the opportunity to not only
solve, but to help own the problems and the
opportunities. Thomas Perez: As a person
who has the privilege of leading 16, 17,000 person
organization I’m not embarrassed to tell you that
I’ve seldom had an original idea in my life. Male speaker: Right. (laughter) Thomas Perez: And — Male Speaker: Most of us
have not Thomas Perez: — success is
about being a good listener. And listening to the front
line workers who know so much. I couldn’t help as I was
sitting there and listening to Robert, followed by Joe,
to ask you the following question, Joe. Because, you know again, I
follow Market Basket and you know the good Arthur at the
end he said, you know, “By working together and only
together do we succeed.” And that, to me, embodies
the culture that he’s tried to create. How could — let me ask you
a hypothetical question. What if you had two workers
at Market Basket doing the same task? One of them had all the full
benefits that you would enjoy and one of them was a
permanent-temporary employee who would get a fraction of
those benefits. How would that connect with
the culture that you have tried to create at Market
Basket? Male Speaker: Well, I think
the answer there is that we wouldn’t have that situation
at Market Basket because we believe very much that the
people that work in the company are the company. And the company is the
people. And would transpire would be
— in that scenario, which again, wouldn’t happen — is
that you would have — (laughter) You would have — Thomas Perez: Did he say it
wouldn’t happen? (laughter) Male Speaker: (laughs) You would have managers that
would be talking to other managers, to supervision,
and people would understand that’s not the right thing
to do. That’ not the right way to
treat people and that’s the simple answer on that. Thomas Perez: And Sarita ,
when I — when I was asking that questions I was
watching out of my left corner of my eye, your body
language — tell me what you were thinking. Female Speaker: I have a lot
of thoughts on culture — Thomas Perez: Yeah Female Speaker: You know, it
is so important, this piece about story-telling I think
is critical to how we think about pathways forward. And the reason is is because
people, people are struggling to survive in our
economy right now. And the reality is that our
work places are so spread out that people often can’t
connect with each other and find the common threads of
our stories, right? Where we connect on key
issues. So I think there’s so much
to be done on this question of creating culture and
culture change. We actually have to change
the conversation about what worker voice is about. We actually have to shift
our values proposition here. Like, we’re up against, you
know — what we’re doing is very counter-culture. We’re in a culture of
individualism. Everyone can do it on their
own. And here we are saying,
“Actually people need to stand together and fight for
change.” And there’s a way in which
we get caught in process and procedures. And what we miss is actually
the hearts of what people need and want in order to
have a better life. And so I think story telling
and constantly grounding our approaches and our
strategies in values is so important right now to
reclaim the values of what it means to be in community. What it means to be
inter-dependent. You know what — and I think
we’re learning a lot through caring across generations
and how we do that in the context of care. And actually valuing and
recognizing a care economy is an example of that. That as we are a rapidly
aging nation, more and more people will need supports
from home care workers. How do we help home care
workers and consumers see that they have a common
interest here in designing a system that really meets the
needs of all our families. All of our families and all
the home care workers’ families together. Right? This goes back to your point
when we all do well, we all do well. But I think culture change
is such an important way in which we help people
experience what it means to all do well together. That it is in fact possible. Thomas Perez: Senator? Michael Sanchez: Yes, first
when you say that you were an aging community you
looked at me and I felt kind of bad about that, but — (laughter) I got you, I understand. (laughs) And I’m getting up there,
I’m getting up there. Thomas Perez: I though she
was looking at me. (laughter) Michael Sanchez: But you
know, we all — we all learned our values from
probably our parents. And I’m going to tell you, I
grew up in a small town and my mom and dad owned a
bakery and restaurant. And they always made sure
that the employees that were working for them were paid a
livable wage. Not a minimum wage, but a
livable wage. Which, a lot of people don’t
understand today. (applause) And somehow, some way along
the line — and my mom and dad worked for 40 years and
I told this story last night that my dad used to get up
at 3:00 in the morning and stay at the bakery and
restaurant until 10:00, 11:00 at night. Come home then get up the
next day, go work, and when the help didn’t show up of
course he had to be there even longer hours. But that’s what instilled us
with understanding that if you take care of your
employees, if you listen to what their needs are, and
you understand where they’re coming from and they’re not
worried about paying the bills and they have some
leisure time to enjoy their families, that’s the
greatest asset in the world. And my children — and my
wife was a teacher and when you were talking about
teachers and she’s sitting here on the front row I get
the — look at her and smile at her. When you were talking about
teachers and how hard they work, the teachers in New
Mexico have been demonized by these outside groups. And I have to tell you, it’s
a shame. Because I dare any of those
people, I dare them to go to our public schools and spend
time in a classroom and do what our teachers do, they
can’t do it. They won’t do it. (applause) I can remember times when my
wife — she’s a retired teacher now — would come
home, she’d get up early, go to school, teach the kids,
come home, not pay any attention to me (laughs) at all, and work on lesson
plans and call parents and talk to students. And they are the most
dedicated group that I’ve ever seen in my life. And for what’s happening to
them in today’s world is just — it’s unbearable to
me. And we need to change how we
approach it. You know, these proponents
all have these bumper sticker slogans that are
real cute. People can address them in a
few lines. And it’s hard for us to
explain everything that’s going on with our unions and
are hard on union workers. You know, if we didn’t have
the unions where would we really be? Where would this country be? Thomas Perez: They did bring
us the weekend (laughs) . Michael Sanchez: Yeah, they
did bring us the weekend. Social security, forty hour
work weeks, the insurance. I mean, really, where would
we be? And we just need to — this
culture because we sit back and let the proponents of
these anti-worker types legislation carry the
debate. We need to be stronger, we
need to be more vocal. And telling our stories is
absolutely fabulous. And I’m going to take my
stories back to the state of New Mexico. By the way, I have to say
New Mexico is the greatest state in the union and if
you want to organize your businesses please come to
New Mexico anytime. (laughter ) (applause) Thank you very much, I
appreciate (inaudible) Thomas Perez: Well, you know
what? I said to you a little over
an hour ago that I predict that at times you will be
very frustrated. You will be saddened. You will be maddened. And you will be inspired by
our panelists. And I predict that you have
had all of those emotions as we have gone through this
hour-long discussion. I want to say thank you to
all of you. Robert, I want to start out
by saying thank you to you. Because for you, your mere
presence here is an act of courage. And I want to say that. (applause) Male Speaker: I want to
thank you too for allowing me to come speak. Because it was real
important to me, not just for me and my co-workers,
but for everybody going through the same situation
of what we’re going through. Because we’re just trying to
make everything better. Thomas Perez: Well and — (applause) Well, and — well, and your
presence is going to help in making things better and
that’s why I’m so grateful. And Joe, thank you as well. And, again, what I learned
from you is again the importance of culture. And culture starts at the
top and it permeates the organization. And when you have leaders
saying that by working together and only together
do we succeed, that’s the culture that can enable us
to build a virtuous cycle. And yeah we see it, and the
question I wanted to ask — the questions that, you
know, our friends at Kaiser, embodied through Greg, have
pointed out is that, you know, when you listen to
your workers. And when you create
structures that enable you to listen, it’s not only
enabling workers to have better terms and conditions
of employment. It’s lowering costs for
patients. It’s lowering costs for the
country. It’s increasing quality. And so, there’s a value
proposition that I heard you articulate in what you say. And, you know, I have kids
at Blair High School. I’m sad that I don’t have a
kid at Rockville High School because I’m confident that
they would be remarkably inspired by you, Ambereen,
and I — I can’t help but say, you know, somebody
wants to punch you — I want to give you a hug and say
thank you (laughs) , that’s what I want to do. (applause) And, you know, Sarita you
have spoken to both the challenges and the
successes. And when I look in the
audience and I see (inaudible) and I see Dorian and I see
so many other people out there, either working at a
grass roots level. I see so many business
leaders who are part of this. You mentioned carrying
across generations and we could spend an hour talking
about And we will, this afternoon
because we have the CEO about four rows back. Again, a remarkable business
partnership. And what they’ve done there
is what I heard people say. You know there was a guy,
Leon Sullivan, who was one of the first African
Americans to serve on the Board of GM. A remarkable civil rights
leader. A leader in the effort to
divest from South Africa. He developed what were
called the Sullivan Principles of Doing Business
in South Africa. And what I heard over the
last hour in effect as we continue the conversation. Hashtag:
#starttheconversation. Hashtag: #sharedprosperity. Hashtag: #wecandobetter. (laughter) Hashtag: #wewilldobetter. What I’ve heard in this
conversation and what I see in the work that people are
doing all over this country, is the articulation of a set
of principles, Sullivan Principles, in effect for
inclusive capitalism. I am here today, and as we
speak there’s a conference in Austin, Texas that I had
to decline but I’m going to continue. And it’s a conference of
business leaders who are all united by a desire to build
a stakeholder model of governance. People like the head of the
Container Store who has a business model that is
exactly what we’re discussing here, the culture
of people first. When you invest in your
human capital we all succeed. And so it seems to me that
perhaps part of the work streams that are going to
flow from today — and thank you for bringing a reality
check to this, Senator, at the front lines. And thank you — I met you
on the phone when we were working together on that
legislation. And I knew you were a leader
then and I know you’re an even greater leader now. And we have an investigation
underway as to whether you lowered the retirement age
in New Mexico because your wife is too young to be
retired. (laughter) But that’s a different
topic. And what we — but what
we’re taking away from this, I think, is the beginning of
the development of these, in effect, Sullivan Principles
for inclusive capitalism. And one of those principles
that has really been hammered home today, in this
session, is that when workers have a meaningful
voice we have shared prosperity. And we’ve got to return to
that. That’s a basic value
proposition. And I think we can get there
because we’ve got a remarkable set of folks,
here and elsewhere, who I think strongly believe that. So, thank you for leading us
off. We’re going to take a break
for a little while and the President will join us
shortly. And so can you give a round
of applause to our wonderful set of panelists? (applause)

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