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Senate confirms Marty Walsh as labor secretary

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Photo: Boston City TV YouTube

Washington — Marty Walsh is the 29th labor secretary, after the Senate confirmed his nomination March 22 in a 68-29 vote.

The former Boston mayor succeeds acting secretary Al Stewart, who also serves as deputy assistant secretary for operations in the Department of Labor Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management.

“I’m grateful for the senators’ bipartisan support. It shows that we know it can be done,” Walsh said during a press conference in Boston shortly after the vote. “I’m deeply grateful to President Biden, Vice President Harris and their confidence in me and for this opportunity to serve our country in this time of need.” 

Walsh highlighted his past efforts supporting employers and workers, along with his cooperation with Republicans and Democrats, during a Feb. 4 confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He also explained how OSHA shouldn’t operate with an “us vs. them” mindset.

“We should be working with OSHA, working with the administration and working with members of this committee to talk about the importance of bringing OSHA back as an agency that is an agency to help workers and help employers and not put in the middle of both,” he told the committee.

Before his two terms as mayor started in January 2014, Walsh joined Laborers’ Union Local 223 at age 21 and later led the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council. He also served more than 16 years as a Massachusetts state representative.

“As a state representative for 16 years, I worked on economic development and worker protections in collaboration with four Republican governors and one Democratic governor,” Walsh said during his confirmation hearing. “As general agent of the Metropolitan Building Council, I worked with developers and contractors to secure good jobs and major investments.

“Throughout my career, I’ve led by listening, collaborating and building partnerships. That’s how, if confirmed, I will lead the Department of Labor.”

The National Safety Council congratulated Walsh on his confirmation and expressed its confidence in the new labor secretary in a statement released March 23.

“With the number of preventable workplace deaths rising, and the pandemic presenting the greatest workplace safety challenge in a century, the Department of Labor needs strong leadership more than ever. Secretary Walsh will provide such guidance,” the statement reads. “Secretary Walsh’s prior experience leading unions in the building and construction trades, as well as his work in the legislature, gives NSC confidence that he will lead with the nation’s workers at the forefront of decisions. 

“We look forward to working closely with him and his team to eliminate deaths and injuries on the job.”  

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