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Biden taps former union president to head US Department of Labor

President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly chosen Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, 53, to lead the U.S. Department of Labor.

Walsh has served as mayor of Boston since 2014. He has had a long-time friendship with Biden, who presided at Walsh’s second mayoral inauguration in 2018.

A former union president and long-time union member, Walsh’s nomination will be welcomed by organized labor. Many expect that he will use the regulatory levers at the DOL to benefit his union colleagues.

Biden has said he plans to run an extremely union-friendly administration. He ran on a platform of making it easier to unionize workers and other pro-union measures. Biden was endorsed by all of the powerful national unions.

Walsh’s name has been floated for the position for several months, and many national labor leaders pushed to have him nominated, including Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO.

In November, Lee Saunders, president of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said in a statement that his union backed Walsh for the position, giving him credit for being a “card-carrying union member.”

Walsh was president of the Laborers Local 223 in Boston, before moving up to head the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council, a union umbrella organization, from 2011 to 2013. He left that job to run for mayor.

While working for the unions, Walsh was also a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 18 years.

In 2019, while Walsh was serving as mayor, two of his top aides were found guilty of conspiracy and extortion for pressuring a Boston festival into hiring unnecessary union workers.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.