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Marty Walsh: The union member we need as Labor Secretary

As a union leader and Boston mayor, Walsh has fought for working families


The following is from the AFL-CIO:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 19, 2021) — The labor movement has learned that when we stand together and fight for change in our country, we can truly make the change working people need and deserve — because on Jan. 7 President-elect Joe Biden nominated a union member, a brother who carried the tools and was an elected officer of his union — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — to be the next secretary of labor of the United States. If confirmed by the Senate, Walsh will be the first union member to serve as Labor Secretary in more than 40 years.

Walsh will succeed Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, Eugene Scalia — a vicious union buster who has on his hands the blood of thousands of workers who have died of COVID-19 contracted in the workplace while he personally blocked a workplace safety standard for infectious disease.

Walsh’s life is one of personal struggle and struggle on behalf of working people. Throughout his long career as a union leader and public servant, Walsh has fought for working people — all working people. He has fought racism and sexism all of his life and, as mayor, has worked with immigrants, communities of color and the working poor to make Boston a better city for everyone — personally taking on the fight for working people, and the poor in particular, over and over again.

Walsh grew up in a triple-decker in Boston. As a young man, he overcame alcoholism and, like so many working people, found a path to a better life through union membership. He joined Laborers Local 223 at age 21 and served as president until 2014, while simultaneously serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as general agent/secretary-treasurer of the Metropolitan Boston Building Trades Council.

Walsh was elected mayor of Boston in 2013 and re-elected in 2017. He was a leading champion on state legislation to make Massachusetts’ minimum wage $15 an hour, while creating 135,000 new jobs. In the face of the COVID-19 public health and economic crises, he created the Boston Resiliency Fund, raising over $30 million to help laid-off workers gain employment with organizations like the Chinese Progressive Association to deliver food to provide for the most vulnerable families, and the Brazilian Worker Center to clean community spaces that were being used to shelter the homeless. He also negotiated directly with banks to stop evictions.

Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers (LIUNA), said, “The 500,000 strong, proud and united men and women of LIUNA are ecstatic and thrilled that President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a dues-paying, card-carrying, second-generation member of Laborers Local 223, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, to be the next U.S. secretary of labor.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, speaking on behalf of the 55 affliated unions and 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO, hailed Walsh’s appointment with these words:

“As a longtime union member, Walsh knows that collective bargaining is essential to building back better by combating inequality, beating COVID-19, and expanding opportunities for immigrants, women and people of color. He will have the ear of the White House, the Cabinet and Congress as we work to increase union density and create a stronger, fairer America. From the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council to the Massachusetts State House to the mayor’s office to his own personal journey with overcoming addiction, Marty Walsh has always been a fighter who understands the power of working people standing together for a better life.”

When Biden takes office on Jan. 20, we will begin a great effort to build back better, to make America after COVID-19 a country where work is rewarded and the future is bright for our children. And in that battle, we will have a secretary of labor at our side who will fight just as hard as any of us, probably harder, because he is, indeed, in the most fundamental way, one of us. A brother.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!