Supply Chain Reaction with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh | Crooked Media
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December 02, 2021
What A Day
Supply Chain Reaction with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh

In This Episode

  • The Supreme Court heard a case yesterday that could ultimately reverse the constitutional right to an abortion. And it looks like the justices were leaning towards upholding a Mississippi law that bars abortion after 15 weeks.
  • The first confirmed case of the omicron variant has been identified in the U.S. President Biden urged people to not panic and encouraged more vaccinations and boosters. U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh joins us to discuss how the variant could impact the supply chain and what the administration is doing to loosen bottlenecks.
  • And in headlines: a 15-year-old boy was charged with murder and terrorism in Tuesday’s school shooting in Michigan, Stacey Abrams announced that she will run for Georgia governor in 2022, and El Salvador will pay damages to a woman who died in prison while serving time for an abortion conviction.






Gideon Resnick: It’s Thursday, December 2nd. I’m Gideon Resnick.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, where the top genre on our Spotify Wrapped list was “knowledge, wisdom, and information.”


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, for some people, Spotify is music and relaxation. For us, it is purely a place for self-improvement.


Tre’vell Anderson: Spotify is basically a gym for my mind.


Gideon Resnick: I am doing crunches as we speak. On today’s show, charges have been filed against the suspect in Tuesday’s school shooting in Michigan. Plus, Stacey Abrams says she is running for governor in Georgia again.


Tre’vell Anderson: But first, the Supreme Court heard a case yesterday which could ultimately reverse the constitutional right to an abortion. And it looks like the justices are leaning towards upholding a Mississippi law that bars abortion after 15 weeks, which is two months earlier than what’s allowed under Roe v. Wade. The case in front of the court is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The law in question, which has no exception for rape or incest, was passed in 2018, but as we discussed on the show yesterday, was immediately blocked by two federal courts. But Mississippi argued that the Supreme Court’s previous decisions establishing the right to an abortion were wrongly decided. Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart said this:


[clip of Scott Stewart] Roe vs. Wade and Planned Parenthood vs. Casey haunt our country. They have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions.


Tre’vell Anderson: Oh my.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, haunt our country is absolutely insane. Dear lord. Courts have consistently struck down laws like this Mississippi one, and the Supreme Court’s three liberal justices were adamant that Roe should stand, along with the 1992 decision on Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. That ruling says that a state cannot prohibit a person from terminating their pregnancy before quote, “viability”, which occurs around 24 weeks. In defending a person’s right to an abortion, here is what lawyer Julie Rikelman said before the Supreme Court:


[clip of Julie Rikelman] States will rush to ban abortion at virtually any point in pregnancy. Mississippi itself has a six-week ban that it’s defending with very similar arguments as it’s using to defend the 15-week ban.


Gideon Resnick: However, based on what observers saw during yesterday’s hearing, a majority of the court’s conservative justices suggested they were prepared to reverse the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision. The justices heard 90 minutes of oral arguments yesterday, and the court’s decision is not expected until late June or early July.


Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe the justices will take that new-year-new-me thing really serious this go around.


Gideon Resnick: I would hope. I don’t think so.


Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s turn now to the coronavirus, because the CDC announced yesterday that the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant has been identified in the U.S. The person flew from South Africa into San Francisco on November 22nd. The CDC says they were fully vaccinated, had mild symptoms and had been quarantining since testing positive. They also said none of that person’s close contacts tested positive so far.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and yesterday, President Biden addressed the topic of the variant again, once more urging people to not panic as the administration encouraged more vaccinations and boosters.


[clip of President Biden] We’re learning more every single day, and we’ll fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion. So let me repeat what the doctors and scientists have affirmed: the best protection against Omicron is getting a booster shot. Right now, about 135 million Americans are eligible for a booster, but only about 40 million have gotten one thus far.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and we’re expecting to hear more about the administration’s plans regarding the variant today, including a likely extension of some mask mandates for travel, testing requirements for international travelers, and the winter months more broadly. So we’ll keep an eye on that and let you know what we find out.


Tre’vell Anderson: But we do know the Omicron variant could potentially affect a lot of other parts of our lives, including the supply chain. That’s particularly a huge priority for the Biden administration, and U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has been part of that effort to look at how to loosen bottlenecks. He’s with us in studio today to talk about all of this after spending the day in Los Angeles at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach earlier this week. Welcome to What A Day.


Marty Walsh: Thank you for having me today.


Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks for coming. So let’s get right into it. What we know is that almost, what, 40% of all goods that come to us from overseas goes through the Port of L.A. and Long Beach. Can you give us a sense of what you saw there and what stood out to you?


Marty Walsh: Yeah, I know, it was a great trip. In my conversations, a couple of things that they said. Number one was that the companies are in good shape for the holiday season. Their shelves are stocked. There’s still containers coming in that will be coming in throughout the holiday season. So they’re not concerned initially about that. I talked to a longshoreman—about 15,000 of them work there—they have been given the authority to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week if they need to. One of the biggest concerns I see is trucking, is not having enough truck drivers and chassis to be able to get the supplies off if you run a 24-hour operation. And the supply chain issue is simply more than ships coming in the harbor. When I think about worker shortage, is thinking about how do we create a pathway for truck drivers? Is there an opportunity for us to create a pre-apprentice program? People, are saying people that want to truck driving more. I don’t think that’s the case. I just think that they don’t want to truck drive for low money anymore. I think they’re like, we want good wages, better wages, we’ll drive. And I think that we have to figure that out. And the second piece is, a lot of these independent truck drivers, they have their own trucks. So if you’re a truck driver and you don’t have the ability and the means to buy a new truck, then you have a license but you don’t have a truck. So again, how do you make sure that we get you in a truck that you can pick the goods off the pier?


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha.


Gideon Resnick: Right. And as you said Secretary, President Biden confirmed yesterday that the ports are having the capacity to run 24-7. He also said this:


[clip of President Biden] We’re heading into a holiday season in very strong shape. It’s not because of luck. We averted potential crises by figuring out what needed to get fixed, and then we brought people together to do the hard work of fixing it.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, there’s still this logjam in that supply chain, though. On Monday, there were 84 container ships off the coast waiting to unload, and as you said, there are just not enough truck drivers, that’s part of the problem. Plus, the Port’s executive director said just a couple of weeks ago that there aren’t enough warehouse workers to meet the demand either. So if they’re short people here, you talk about some like long-term fixes—how do you fix that so they’re running 24-7 smoothly, beyond what you’ve already mentioned.


Marty Walsh: Well, I’m going to throw two more things that you I heard. Number one, is that in some warehouses, there’s not enough space in warehouses for the goods. Also, a lot of the port is occupied by empties. I wasn’t thinking about empties, where were they going? I wasn’t thinking about warehouses being full. I wasn’t thinking about this stuff. I’m learning and that’s why I came out to L.A. and Long Beach— to learn about this. And I’m going to take that back what I heard, at the White House. One of the meeting we had was with some truck drivers. One company has 160 drivers, another company has 120 drivers, so they employed multiple drivers, and they were saying that they’re looking for more drivers and they have trucks available. We have some work to do, and I think that, you would think it’s a simple solution. But you have the ports that are being run by shipping companies, you have the trucking industry run by a separate industry, you have dispatch run by a third industry. You have the chassis who are owned by, I believe, the companies on the piers, but they don’t necessarily have them all fixed. You have so many different pieces here that you really have to continue keeping everyone in the same room and say, OK, who’s going to do A, B, C and D? So we do have to get these goods and service in here. And I think that a lot of it is, you know, staying consistent. And then also hoping that this new variant—we won’t know yet—but doesn’t impact us even further.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah.


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So yesterday, President Biden also said this:


[clip of President Biden] Because of the actions the administration has taken in partnership with business and labor, retailers and grocery stores, freight movers, railroads, those shelves are going to be stocked.


Tre’vell Anderson: So now I, and some of our listeners, have had experiences where a common item or two is sold out or a lot more expensive than it has been in the past. For me, I’ve been talking about my oxtail plate at the local Jamaican restaurant. It’s just more expensive than it always, than it used to been. So how do you explain kind of that disconnect between what we’re hearing in terms of like stores being, you know, stocked, and some on-the-ground experiences folks are having?


Marty Walsh: I can’t speak to oxtail on that one, but it’s a very popular—I have an Irish mother, so oxtail is a popular Irish dish, by the way, oxtail soup, particularly—but you know, listen, every holiday season, there’s that thing that you go to buy in the store and it’s sold out at Christmas time. You know, if you have size 11 slippers and you want to get a UGG slippers 11, they’re not there on the shelf at Christmas time. Or if you want to get the newest iPhones, sometimes they might run out. So there’s going to be items that sell out, not because of supply chain issues, just because they’re popular. But certainly, you know, we’re keeping an eye on, and the president’s keeping an eye on, the cost. Inflation has been talked a lot about here, and we’re looking at making sure the cost of these items don’t go too high and seeing what we can do in our control not to have the big cost, number one. Number two, also, even though inflation has gone up, people have more money in their pockets than they have in the past. So that’s a good sign. But I think there’s going to be those one or two individual items that aren’t going to be on the shelf. And then on the other side of that, you know, the president has a proposal, Buy and Build America—we are kind of too dependent on imports from other countries and we have to think about some of this ourselves. How can we create some of these opportunities? Because some of these jobs, we used to be here when. I was a kid—I’m 54—so when I was a kid, you know, we did a lot more manufacturing. Even before that, we did more. So we have work to do to build more here in America.


Tre’vell Anderson: I feel like folks always want to know like a deadline of like when they can expect to see a return back to what they consider as normal. Is their sense yet of that time?


Marty Walsh: I don’t know, you know, I’m not sure if there’s a normal. Do we really want to go back to normal, or do we want a new normal? And do we want to create better expectations for ourselves? Do we want, whether it’s in employment and creating better opportunities in the country for people of color? Like if we go back to normal, that means the unemployment rate for the Black community is going to be twice as high as the unemployment rate for the white community, Latino community maybe a little lower than that. Women are still going to be underpaid the men. Is that what we want to go back to?


Tre’vell Anderson: Points are being made, sir.


Marty Walsh: Or is this the time and opportunity to really think about changing? We can do better.


Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely.


Gideon Resnick: I want to go back to the pandemic point that you raised, the elephant in the room. You know, Omicron is a potential big threat to the supply chain as well. We do not know very much about it at this point, but we do know from the Delta outbreak that some workers remained at home last summer out of nervousness, not wanting to get sick, not wanting to get their family sick, and fewer workers out there means there are different sorts of bottlenecks in all kinds of industries. So what’s the plan if there are signs that that might happen again?


Marty Walsh: Well, I think first and foremost, we learned a lot from March of 2021 till today. Over the last, you know, 20 months or so, we learned a lot about COVID-19. We learned a lot about the variants. I think in this particular variant, the president and the CDC and Dr. Fauci and the task force has said, you know, this is kind of still a wait-and-see approach to see what happens in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, my recommendation to people is, you know, wear your masks, wash your hands, if you can get vaccinated get vaccinated, if you’re eligible for a booster get a booster. I know that there’s a lot of conversation. Somehow, vaccines have turned political, which is very unfortunate because you know, the proof is they do save lives. Hopefully, three weeks I can come back on and say, Listen, the variant is really not that contagious and that we’re in better space and we’re going to continue to move forward. I’m hoping I can say that. I just can’t say that in good confidence today because there’s not enough information on it.


Gideon Resnick: Right.


Tre’vell Anderson: You just mentioned how like the vaccines and the mask mandates have become like political issues and culture war issues, but a lot of folks are just worried about like how they can be safe. So I’m wondering if there are any other things that you and the administration can be doing from your vantage point to ensure that safety or make people feel safe.


Marty Walsh: I don’t think it’s just the administration, I think it’s people listening today. I think, yeah, no one wants wear a mask, but if the mask allows you to opportunity to be safe then wear the mask when you’re around people. If you know if you’re not vaccinated, wear the mask around people because they don’t know you’re not vaccinated and they don’t know the reasons why you’re not vaccinated. It could be religious reasons, it could be medical reasons, it could be the fact that you just want to get vaccinated—put the mask on, just out of goodwill for someone else. I think that that’s an important piece. And also, you know, the one thing I jsut want to take a point of personal privilege here for a minute, this last year’s been hard and a lot of people. I’m in recovery, I’ve been in recovery for 20 years now, 26 years, and when I was the mayor, I ended my press conferences by telling people, If you’re struggling out there, ask for help. Anxiety, depression, concern, fear, whatever it might be, we all have it. You know, just reach out to somebody because I think that has a lot to do with people not coming back to work right now as well, too and people’s concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because sometimes you just need it. And it’s a sign of strength, in my opinion, by reaching your hand out to somebody.


Tre’vell Anderson: Definitely.


Gideon Resnick: Lastly, on an entirely different topic, we’ve been talking a lot about Boston.  Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that he was not going to seek another term. Are you going to run?


Marty Walsh: You know, listen, I love my job as Secretary of Labor. I take it very seriously. Let the governor in Massachusetts—you know, I don’t know if you can enjoy the day you announce you’re not running for reelection, but we’ll let him enjoy the day.


Tre’vell Anderson: Marty Walsh, U.S. Labor Secretary. Thanks for being on What A Day.


Gideon Resnick: Thank you. This is awesome. I want to be on again.


Gideon Resnick: Definitively unresolved governor answer there, I suppose. But we’ll find out more soon. More on everything else we discussed as well, but that is the latest for now.


[ad break]


Gideon Resnick: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Gideon Resnick: Prosecutors have charged a 15-year old boy with murder, terrorism and other crimes following Tuesday’s school shooting in Michigan, in which four people were killed. Ethan Crumbley, a sophomore at the school, is being charged as an adult and is accused of firing a semiautomatic handgun in a hallway at Oxford High School, which is in a suburb 30 miles north of Detroit. Prosecutors described the attack as a planned shooting, though it’s not believed that any of the victims were specifically targeted. Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said this:


[clip of Karen McDonald] We’ve charged four counts of first degree murder, which requires premeditation, and I am absolutely sure after reviewing the evidence that it isn’t even a close call.


Gideon Resnick: McDonald also said Crumbley’s parents may face charges as well because they are accused of allowing him access to the gun that he used in the shooting. His father had purchased that gun just four days earlier.


Tre’vell Anderson: The Inter-American Court of Human Rights said the country of El Salvador must pay damages to a woman who died in prison while serving a 30-year sentence for an abortion conviction. In 2008, the woman, only identified as Manuela, was diagnosed with a rare and potentially fatal pregnancy complication known as serious postpartum pre-eclampsia. When Manuela miscarried, police assumed that she got an abortion to hide an affair and charged her with homicide. In El Salvador, it is illegal to get an abortion under any circumstance, and this is the first time an international court has weighed in on the country’s restrictive laws. Manuela died in 2010 of lymphatic cancer at 33-years old. The Inter-American Court found that El Salvador violated Manuela’s rights by imprisoning her for a medical emergency she could not control. The amount the country owes Manuela’s family is unclear, and the Salvadoran government has yet to comment on the verdict.


Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. The voting rights activists who helped paint Georgia blue is getting back in the race: Stacey Abrams announced yesterday that she will run for governor in 2022, facing off against Governor Brian Kemp for the second time. Abrams lost to Kemp by just 55,000 votes in 2018, and since then she has played a crucial role in getting Georgia voters registered and fighting voter suppression. In a campaign video that she posted yesterday on Twitter, Abrams pledged to fight for economic equality and expand health care coverage if elected. She said in her post that she’s running again because quote, “opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background or access to power.” Her campaign announcement comes at a pivotal time, after Georgia Republicans proposed a redistricting map that would deepen their majority in the battleground state. If she beats Kemp this time around, Abrams will be the first Black female governor in the country.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yesterday, the country got to indulge its two beloved pastimes of science and reconstructing crime scenes, when excerpts leaked from a new book by Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows indicating that the president tested positive for COVID before the first debate with Joe Biden. Two anonymous former Trump aides confirmed the story to The Washington Post. Three days before the debate on September 26th of last year, Trump allegedly took a test that indicated he had COVID. He followed up with a rapid antigen test, which is generally considered to be a less reliable option. The second test came back negative, and Trump didn’t investigate further. It wasn’t like he was about to take the stage with an important politician with highly-antique lungs. He didn’t care, obviously. Trump announced he had COVID just days after the debate. Mentions of the tests from Meadows’ book were published by The Guardian. If you want to hear how a man talks with his faith lets him serve the worst president but doesn’t let him swear, here’s how Meadows described Trump’s reaction the first time he got a positive result: “his reply rhymed with O spit, you’ve got to be trucking lidding me.”


Gideon Resnick: What the hell?


Tre’vell Anderson: Trump has unsurprisingly called reports of his initial positive test ‘fake news’. Asked yesterday what he thought about the revelation that Trump may have knowingly put him at risk, Biden said quote, “I don’t think about the former president.” Which we love to see.


Gideon Resnick: Yeah, extremely Kiki Palmer Energy. I will also say on the topic of highly antique lungs, Trump had a pair of highly antique lungs that he was not taking care of so he clearly did not care about other people’s. Wow. What a revelation. And those are the headlines.


Tre’vell Anderson: One more thing before we go, we have a quick favor to ask: if you love listening to this podcast, why not leave us a review? Tell us what you like, don’t like, or any other thoughts you might have about What A Day. We can’t wait to read what you think


Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. And if you’re into reading, and not just swears because they aren’t scary actually, like me, What A Day is also a nightly news letter. Check it out and subscribe at


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson,


Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.


[together] And avert your eyes from my Spotify Wrapped!


Gideon Resnick: Yes, the news on there is too much for you to handle.


Tre’vell Anderson: Mine would just say I’m listening to Fantasia all the time. So do it that what you will.


Gideon Resnick: Exactly. You praise it, is what you will do. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.