Soon after the coronavirus halted in-person gatherings, Monitor editors and readers suggested we take our newsmaker breakfasts virtual. Fill up the “Hollywood Squares” of Zoom with reporters and an interesting guest, and have a thoughtful conversation.
Back in March, I wasn’t ready to go there. But yesterday, we took the plunge, with labor leader Richard Trumka and 17 reporters in attendance. Mr. Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, appears at our breakfast every year, right before Labor Day, and it felt right to keep that tradition going – especially with workplace issues and the presidential race top-of-mind.
We talked about the “big three” states – Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – that Democrats are eager to win back and where blue-collar voters are crucial. We talked police and teachers unions. We talked workplace safety.
I wrote something quick afterward. Today’s Monitor Daily features a piece by Laurent Belsie on work-life balance, with input from the breakfast. C-SPAN recorded the event, and aired it later. Here's our YouTube link.
Of course, meeting virtually wasn’t the same as gathering in person at the elegant St. Regis Hotel. Mr. Trumka joked that he missed his plate of scrambled eggs. That’s the secret sauce of Monitor Breakfasts, the collegiality that comes from breaking bread together – with a side of hard-nosed questions.
But I think the Zoom format worked, and we hope to do more such breakfasts. To keep things balanced, our next guest will be a Republican. And we look forward to returning, in person, to the St. Regis someday.
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