President-elect Joe Biden announced Jan. 7 that he will nominate Marty Walsh—mayor of Boston and a member of the Laborers union—to be U.S. Secretary of Labor. Labor secretary is a cabinet-level post, in charge of wage and hour enforcement, worker safety, pension security, and apprenticeship training, among other responsibilities.
If confirmed as expected by the newly-elected Democratic majority in the Senate, Walsh would be the first union member to serve as labor secretary since 1977.
The son of Irish immigrants, Walsh joined Laborers Local 223 in 1988 at age 21, following in the footsteps of his father, a lifelong member of the local. Walsh got active in the union, was elected Local 223 president, and eventually became secretary-treasurer of the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council. In 1997, he was elected state representative, and later became co-chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Labor Caucus. He remained Local 223 president until he was elected mayor of Boston in 2013.
“Marty Walsh will be an exceptional labor secretary for the same reason he was an outstanding mayor—he carried the tools,” said National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a press statement praising the nomination.