Marty Walsh confirmed as next United States Secretary of Labor

Mayor Martin J. Walsh speaks during Boston Talks Racism at the Cutler Majestic Theatre November 19. Photo by Crystal Milner/BU News Service

By Hannah Green
Boston University News Service

By a margin of 68-29, the U.S. Senate voted on Monday to confirm Marty Walsh as the next labor secretary within President Joe Biden’s administration.

The 54th mayor of Boston will be the first union member to serve as labor secretary in 50 years. He is also the last department secretary to be confirmed by the Senate, following his nomination on Jan. 7.

Walsh has served as the mayor of Boston since 2014 and was sworn in for a second term in 2018. Prior to this, he represented the 13th Suffolk district in the state House of Representatives from 1997 until 2014.

Born and raised in Dorchester by his Irish immigrant parents, Walsh has long positioned himself as a “champion of working people.”

As a young man, he joined his father in the Laborers Local 223 union in Boston and went on to lead the Building and Construction Trades Council from 2011 to 2013.

In a press conference after Monday’s vote, Walsh said this background would continue to guide his work as labor secretary. His priorities will include workplace safety, unemployment and workforce development.

“I share [the Biden administration’s] commitment to building an economy that works for every single American,” Walsh said. “I spent my entire career fighting for working people and I’m eager to continue that fight in Washington.”

Walsh resigned as mayor on Monday night, and will be sworn in to his new role Tuesday in Washington D.C.

Boston City Council President Kim Janey will take over as acting mayor until a regular election in November, after city and state officials voted to forgo a special election due to COVID-19. 

Janey is a fourth-generation Roxbury resident and was elected to the city council in 2017. She will also make history as the first woman and first Black person to serve as mayor of Boston.

Walsh said the significance of this week’s appointments was not lost on him or Janey.

“I was texting with Council President Janey last night and I texted: ‘Think about this for a minute: A little girl from Roxbury is about to be mayor of Boston,’” Walsh said. “And her response was, ‘Think about this for a minute: A little boy from Dorchester is about to become the United States labor secretary.’”

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