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AFSCME celebrates Biden’s pick of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for U.S. labor secretary

AFSCME file photo
By AFSCME Staff ·

AFSCME celebrates President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as our country’s next secretary of labor. The choice will radically shift the focus of the Department of Labor to where it was always intended: on the rights of workers and the needs of working families.

“After four long years of brazen hostility toward working people, the Labor Department will now have leadership that is true to its mission and purpose,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a press statement.

At an event today announcing the nomination, Biden highlighted the importance of the union difference.

“Marty understands like I do: the middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” Biden said. “He sees how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis … [including] public service workers, fighting against budget shortfalls, to keep communities afloat.”

Walsh echoed Biden’s view in his remarks.

“The word ‘labor’ means everything to me,” Walsh said, adding that his immigrant father’s union card enabled his parents to raise their family “with dignity and security.”

“Working people have been struggling for a long time, under the erosion of their rights and the deep inequalities of race, gender and class. For the last four years, they have been under assault,” Walsh said. “And now, we have the opportunity to put power back in the hands of working people all across this country. …We can defend workers’ rights. We can strengthen collective bargaining. We can grow union membership.”

Although the new secretary was bound to be someone with a far different background and outlook than the office’s current occupant, the Walsh announcement was especially welcomed by our union, as we threw our support behind the mayor soon after Biden won the election.

Walsh, a friend of AFSCME’s, is a former tradesman who joined the Laborers’ International Union of North America as a young man before leading the Building and Construction Trades Council in Boston from 2011 to 2013. He is a card-carrying union member who will, in Saunders’ words, “be an influential voice in the administration and a powerful advocate for unions and all working people.”

“Secretary-designate Walsh will drive an agenda that gives working families the tools they need to thrive,” Saunders added. “As secretary, Walsh will focus on boosting wages, investing in skills training, enhancing retirement security, ending the unfair exclusion of workers from minimum labor standards, strengthening job safety and more.”

AFSCME looks forward to working with the new labor secretary to strengthen union rights and level the playing field for working families.

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