Worker Spotlights: Must-Read Worker Stories from 2021

Secretary Marty Walsh stands in front of dozens of union workers wearing black shirts that read: stronger than ever.

Working on behalf of working people means meeting workers where they are.  

One of my favorite parts about serving as your Secretary of Labor is traveling across the nation and talking to workers. It’s a personal mission of mine to amplify the voices of America’s working people and share their stories on what they need, successes they’ve had, and how the Biden-Harris administration can support them.  

We reached back out to a few workers I met during my travels and asked them to share their stories. Below are some highlights from this year:  

Women in Trades: Plumbing

I met Leslie during my trip to Portland, Oregon, this past summer. We caught up with her again to learn more about how her pre-apprenticeship experience helped her secure a good-paying job in the plumbing trade. 

Strength in Numbers: Organizing in the South

I’m a card-carrying union member. Ensuring people have all the resources and knowledge they need to collectively bargain is personal to me. Salvador Herrera, a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, joined AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and me for a roundtable on collective bargaining and organizing in America. Read his experience with organizing and how his union has provided him support. 

Why This Childcare Facility Director Believes in Investing in Caregivers

Kim Jarvis is the founder, owner and executive director of On Purpose Academy and Mentoring Center, a childcare facility in Dayton, Ohio. I joined her and other caregivers, parents and stakeholders to discuss how we can give families and working parents relief: affordable child care. We circled back with Kim afterwards and asked her to share some of her experiences and perspective.  

An Economist’s View on the Care Economy

Dr. Nancy Folbre, an economist at the University of Massachusetts, joined me for a virtual roundtable on the care economy. Her insights were invaluable. We asked Dr. Folbre to share her thoughts on what kind of investments will support America’s care infrastructure and working families. 

How the Susan Harwood Grant Helped Hang Nguyen Reach Nail Salon Workers

The Susan Harwood Training Grant Program grants are awarded to provide and support accessible training and education programs on workplace safety and health hazards. I met Hang Nguyen, executive director of Boat People SOS Center for Community Advancement (BPSOS-CCA), in Orange County, California, earlier this year to hear about how the grant has benefitted her community, particularly those with limited English proficiency.  


Marty Walsh is the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @SecMartyWalsh.