Statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for secretary of labor:
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will be an exceptional labor secretary for the same reason he was an outstanding mayor: he carried the tools. 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.
President-elect Joe Biden has promised to be the “strongest labor president” in American history. His message of “Build Back Better” hits home with our members because union growth and worker power are hallmarks of this agenda. It will take an unprecedented effort from the president-elect and the Labor Department to recover from the failed policies of the past four years, which have harmed working people and our families. But with Joe Biden and Marty Walsh, we are setting our sights high, starting with passage of the PRO Act so the tens of millions of workers who want to form a union can do so freely and fairly.
Walsh grew up in a public housing project in Boston. As a young man, he overcame drug addiction and, like so many working people, found a path to a better life through a union apprenticeship. He joined the Laborers Local 223 at age 21 and served as president until 2014, while simultaneously serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and as secretary-treasurer of the Boston Metropolitan District Building and Construction Trades Council.
Walsh was elected mayor of Boston in 2014 and reelected in 2018. As mayor, he led a successful effort to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, while creating 135,000 new jobs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he negotiated directly with banks to stop evictions and, through the Brazilian Worker Center and Chinese Progressive Association, hired laid-off workers who delivered food to provide for the city’s most vulnerable families.