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President-elect Biden to nominate Boston mayor for labor secretary

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Photo: U.S. Department of the Interior Flickr

Washington — President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 7 announced his intention to nominate Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) for labor secretary.

Walsh has served as mayor since January 2014, after leading the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council and serving 17 years as a Massachusetts state representative.

It’s his union background, beginning at age 21 in the Laborers’ Union Local 223, for which Walsh’s nomination is drawing praise from some circles and criticism from others.

“As a state representative, he led efforts to ban hazardous, combustible chemicals which were causing fires and killing workers,” Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and former executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, said in a National COSH press release. “As mayor of Boston, he worked with labor unions and safety advocates to pass a new ordinance holding city contractors accountable, after the tragic – and preventable – drowning of two workers in a construction trench.

“As a lifelong trade unionist who knows firsthand the importance of job safety, Mayor Walsh will urgently need to put his experience to work to confront one of the most crucial tasks of the new administration: protecting workers from the risks of a deadly virus.”

In a separate press release, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), ranking member of House Education and Labor Committee, states: “President-elect Biden’s nomination of Marty Walsh to lead the Department of Labor raises significant concerns about the federal government’s role in shaping the future of our evolving workforce. House Democrats have consistently proven their commitment to special interests like Big Labor bosses and trial lawyers in advancing radical policies that hurt workers and job creators alike.”

After Biden’s inauguration Jan. 20, the next step in Walsh’s nomination is likely a confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

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