On Monday, March 22nd, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to confirm Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor secretary, a federal position that oversees workplace conditions, benefits and rights.
Walsh has strong union ties dating back to his early twenties. By 2011, he had risen from member of the Laborers’ Union Local 223 to head of the Boston Trades Council. His confirmation marks the first union leader heading the labor department in over four decades.
“It's difficult to overstate the importance of this moment,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says of Walsh’s confirmation. “For four years, working families have lived with a Labor Department devoted to serving a handful of elite interests. Now, the power to enforce safety and equity in our workplaces has been handed from a ruthless corporate lawyer to a proud union brother.”
Walsh assumes his duties at a difficult time: the pandemic wreaked havoc, leaving millions unemployed and exposing concerns about workplace safety. The new Labor Secretary has a lot on his plate. He will be the force behind the Biden administration’s aggressive pandemic labor response, working to firm up workplace safety enforcement policies, administer pandemic emergency unemployment programs, sell the proposed $15 minimum wage, and examine Trump administration policies on independent contractors and the gig economy.
Walsh is aware of the challenges that lay ahead and looks forward to meeting them head-on.
“Right now, this work is critical to the future of our economy, our communities, and our families,” Walsh said during his confirmation hearing. “I believe we must act with urgency to meet this moment to strengthen and empower our workforce as we rebuild.”
DCI will keep you updated as we learn more.