The Senate confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as labor secretary under the Biden administration in a 68-29 vote on Monday, making him the first labor secretary to come from a union background in nearly 50 years.
All of President Biden’s nominees for 15 executive departments have now been confirmed by the Senate.
Walsh, who is a longtime friend of Biden, had the support of union leaders in light of his background as a former top union leader.
Prior to his term as Boston’ mayor, Walsh served on the Massachusetts House of Representatives and helped build trades unions in the city. Walsh was a member of Laborers Local 223 and led the Building and Construction Trades Council from 2011 to 2013.
During a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing last month, Walsh highlighted his working-class background and how his personal experiences informed his passion for labor rights.
“Workers’ protection, equal access to good jobs, the right to join a union, continuing education and job training, access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, these are not just policies to me,” Walsh said. “I lived them. Millions of American families right now need them.”
Walsh’s Senate confirmation comes on the heels of Biden’s forceful endorsement of a unionization effort by Amazon warehouse staffers in Alabama. Like Biden, Walsh has thrown his support behind the Protecting the Right to Organize Act — one of the most significant bills for the labor movement in decades that would remove obstacles to workers forming unions and would effectively end the anti-union “right to work” laws that are currently in effect in 28 states. The legislation, which passed in the House last month, now awaits its fate in the Senate.
Walsh’s term as labor secretary comes amid the country reeling from an economic and public health crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic with millions of Americans facing unemployment.