ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh joined Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and community leaders in Atlanta for roundtable discussions on the gender wage gap, low wages and other workforce issues. He also drew attention to the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Agenda as a solution.
Walsh and Bottoms heard from several organizations about challenges women are facing in the workforce. “Even before the pandemic, the low wages and lack of other supports led childcare teachers to leave the profession,” said Mindy Binderman, the executive director for Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. “Several women that we’ve worked with have actively had to choose between paying for medication or putting food on the table,” said Shante Wolfe, the campaigns director for Caring Across Generations. “I just want to encourage you to make sure paid leave is there, because we work hard,” said Reverend Harriet Bradley, a home care advocate and member of Caring Across Generations.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
They described how COVID-19 made low wages and the gender pay gap worse. “Georgia is on the mind of the White House, and your voices are so important,” said Bottoms. She shared some statistics indicating women are paid 82% percent of what White men are paid in the workforce. For Black women, it’s 62 percent. “We have to treat people with respect, and we have to create pathways in the middle class,” Walsh said. He is urging Congress to pass the Build Back Better agenda, saying it would help resolve the issues. “Atlanta’s one of those important cities in our country that we need to support the Build Back Better agenda in job training, in workforce development,” he said. “The great part about having the secretary here is that he did serve as a mayor for seven years, so he understands the needs of our communities,” said Bottoms.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
Walsh’s conversations on low wages and workforce complaints continued at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Local 613. “We shouldn’t wait until we get a complaint in Wage and Hours to address those problems,” he said, referring to a discussion on complaints received by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.MORE NEWS: ZooTampa Starts Giving Animals COVID-19 Vaccine
As the workforce challenges continue, so do the calls to pass federal legislation as a solution.