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Walsh earns plaudits from unions

Berry Craig
10 Jan, 2021
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is a sampling of union reaction to President-elect Joe Biden's nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for labor secretary. 


WASHINGTON, DC – Jan. 7, 2021 — Today, North America’s Building Trades Unions’ (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey released the following statement applauding the announcement of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as President-elect Joe Biden’s intended nominee for U.S. Secretary of Labor:

“North America’s Building Trades Unions applaud Mayor Marty Walsh on being nominated to serve as U.S. Secretary of Labor. This son of immigrants started his career working as a laborer in all of the elements – blazing heat, freezing cold, rain and snow – coming home each night, having to get out of his work clothes outside so he didn’t drag mud through the house.  Recognized from the start as a natural leader, Walsh was asked by his coworkers to speak on their behalf. Always civically engaged, he was recognized by his community and asked to speak on their behalf as a state legislator. Recognized as a strong and objective leader by the trade union movement, he was asked to speak for them as head of the building trades in Boston.

“In these roles, Mayor Walsh always looked to level the playing field for all communities, especially communities of color, women, immigrants, veterans, and the formerly incarcerated. He tilled the soil so they could have their shot at the middle class through training and skillsets taught in apprenticeship readiness programs that he developed and on to Registered Apprenticeship. The residents of Boston recognized this exceptional leadership; they wanted him to speak for them, and he has, as two-time elected and current mayor. Now, recognized by President-elect Biden as a talented, smart, tough advocate for the American dream for all – always pulling people up, never tearing them down – Mayor Walsh will continue creating pathways and ladders of opportunity for anyone that wants a chance to succeed in America’s workforce.

“Mayor Walsh is the exact right choice for Labor Secretary at this time in our country’s history. We are confident that Mayor Walsh will continue creating pathways of opportunities for anyone that wants a chance to succeed in America’s workforce. He is also keenly aware of the perils of health and safety facing workers in this country. He will make sure that America’s workers get the proper training and that America’s employers, in partnership, follow the rules so that workers arrive home after work in the same condition as they headed off to work in the morning.

“There is no better decision for U.S. Labor Secretary that President-elect Biden could have made than somebody who has been there, done it, with unquestioned leadership, accessibility, and vast executive experience. America’s employers will be well served with Mayor Walsh as Labor Secretary, and all of America’s workers – black, white, brown, women, men, gay, straight, and transgender – will recognize that, for the first time in decades and decades, the U.S. Labor Secretary will speak for them at the worksite, in the halls of Congress, in the c-suites, at the Roosevelt room in the White House and in the Oval Office when the President convenes the Cabinet.

“Our heartiest congratulations to Mayor Walsh on his nomination, and to the American workforce for their voice, their spokesperson, their advocate, and their Labor Secretary.”

UFCW: Biden Labor Secretary Pick Marty Walsh a strong champion for American workers on the Frontlines of Covid-19

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million frontline workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, healthcare and other frontline industries, applauded President-elect Joe Biden for choosing Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to lead the U.S. Department of Labor in his administration.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“America’s essential workers are still on the frontlines of this pandemic, and they need leaders who will step up to keep them safe on the job as they serve our communities during this crisis. President-elect Biden’s choice of Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary sends a clear message that this administration is ready to fight for America’s frontline workers. 

“Under the Trump Administration, the Department of Labor has failed to protect America’s frontline workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and so many other frontline businesses. With Marty Walsh serving as Labor Secretary, American workers will know they have a champion who will hold corporations accountable and support the good-paying union jobs our country needs.

“As Boston Mayor and throughout his career, Marty Walsh has always been a champion for American workers. Whether it was standing with Stop & Shop grocery workers striking to protect their health care, creating good union jobs, or supporting a strong minimum wage for Boston workers, Walsh has always put hardworking families first. 

“Protecting our country’s essential workers is crucial to taking control of this pandemic and rebuilding the economy. As the union for 1.3 million food and retail workers, UFCW is proud to support Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary.

USW applauds Biden picks for Labor, Commerce secretaries

PITTSBURGH – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway issued the following statement today in response to the announcements that President-elect Joe Biden selected Marty Walsh to serve as Labor Secretary and Gina Raimondo to serve as Commerce Secretary. 

“The Departments of Labor and Commerce are both important for protecting workers and their jobs. Joe Biden’s choices of Marty Walsh and Gina Raimondo to lead these departments continue to demonstrate his commitment to advancing the interests of working people.

“President-elect Biden has long prioritized workers, and naming Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary helps set the country on the path toward greater economic equality and shared prosperity. 

“As a longtime union member and former leader of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council, Walsh understands the value of a hard day’s work and a collectively bargained contract. Given Walsh’s commitment to workers’ rights, including the right to organize, he will undoubtedly use the office of Labor Secretary to continue fighting on behalf of all working people.

 “Gov. Raimondo will also be an important ally to President-elect Biden in ensuring the effectiveness and impact of his Build Back Better program.   

“As Rhode Island governor, she addressed the worst unemployment rate in the nation and advanced workforce training programs and other initiatives to promote good jobs in her state.   

“She focused on jobs and business development, which will be important to economic recovery and, with the underlying emphasis on fair trade and good jobs of the President-elect, her stewardship over the Department of Commerce’s trade responsibilities should help promote economic recovery in key trade-impacted industries.

“The USW looks forward to working closely with both Walsh and Raimondo.”

AFSCME Celebrates Biden's Pick of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for U.S. Labor Secretary

AFSCME celebrates President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as our country’s next secretary of labor. The choice will radically shift the focus of the Department of Labor to where it was always intended: on the rights of workers and the needs of working families.

“After four long years of brazen hostility toward working people, the Labor Department will now have leadership that is true to its mission and purpose,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said in a press statement.

At an event today announcing the nomination, Biden highlighted the importance of the union difference.

“Marty understands like I do: the middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” Biden said. “He sees how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis … [including] public service workers, fighting against budget shortfalls, to keep communities afloat.”

Walsh echoed Biden’s view in his remarks.

“The word ‘labor’ means everything to me,” Walsh said, adding that his immigrant father’s union card enabled his parents to raise their family “with dignity and security.”

“Working people have been struggling for a long time, under the erosion of their rights and the deep inequalities of race, gender and class. For the last four years, they have been under assault,” Walsh said. “And now, we have the opportunity to put power back in the hands of working people all across this country. …We can defend workers’ rights. We can strengthen collective bargaining. We can grow union membership.”

Although the new secretary was bound to be someone with a far different background and outlook than the office’s current occupant, the Walsh announcement was especially welcomed by our union, as we threw our support behind the mayor soon after Biden won the election.

Walsh, a friend of AFSCME’s, is a former tradesman who joined the Laborers’ International Union of North America as a young man before leading the Building and Construction Trades Council in Boston from 2011 to 2013. He is a card-carrying union member who will, in Saunders’ words, “be an influential voice in the administration and a powerful advocate for unions and all working people.”

“Secretary-designate Walsh will drive an agenda that gives working families the tools they need to thrive,” Saunders added. “As secretary, Walsh will focus on boosting wages, investing in skills training, enhancing retirement security, ending the unfair exclusion of workers from minimum labor standards, strengthening job safety and more.”

AFSCME looks forward to working with the new labor secretary to strengthen union rights and level the playing field for working families.

LIUNA Praises Selection of Mayor Walsh for Labor Secretary

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today:

The 500,000 strong, proud, and united men and women of LIUNA are ecstatic and thrilled that President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a dues-paying, card-carrying, second-generation member of Laborers’ Local Union 223, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. Marty Walsh is a living embodiment of the American dream: he worked his way up from the field to become a leader of his local union, the head of the Boston Metropolitan Building Trades Council, Mayor of Boston, and now, U.S. Secretary of Labor. He is a hard-charging, hard-fighting, tireless and tenacious working class warrior whose word is his bond, who says what he means and means what he says, and who can always be counted on to stand with working men and women. Marty never forgets where he came from; he values hard work and those that do it; and he has seen, first hand, the power of the Trade Union Movement to transform lives.

As a labor leader and community activist, Marty Walsh helped tens of thousands of workers build strong, middle-class lives for themselves and their families. As Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh has made his deep roots in the Trade Union Movement a central part of his political career, proudly wearing his union affiliation on his sleeve, and displaying his union card wherever he goes. He has fought for Boston’s working families, made city government more responsive to all those who live and work in Boston, and distinguished himself as one of the hardest-working, most innovative big-city leaders in our nation today.

I know that with his dedication and devotion to the cause, the purpose, and the mission of the Labor Movement, Marty Walsh will restore and re-energize the Department of Labor’s role as a powerful guardian of workers, and strong and effective enforcer of labor laws. He will fight for all working people, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or what kind of work they do. He will work to bring skills training and a stronger voice on the job to millions of American workers who too often have been disregarded. He is also a leader that has a history of working cooperatively with employers to create middle class family supporting jobs.

We are awed and inspired that the top labor post in our great country will be occupied by one of our own LIUNA brothers. The choice of Mayor Walsh shows that, when it comes to the agency responsible for enforcing our nation’s labor laws, President-elect Joe Biden not only talks the talk; he truly walks the walk. We congratulate Marty on this appointment, and look forward to working with him, and the Biden administration, in the months and years to come.

AFT on Nomination of Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary

WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang issued the following statements after President-elect Joe Biden nominated Marty Walsh to be the next U.S. secretary of labor.

The AFT’s Weingarten said: “While wealthy Americans have done extraordinarily well in the last two decades, too many workers have lived paycheck to paycheck, with COVID-19 making the divide even worse. Workers need a champion in Washington—and Marty Walsh would be a crucial addition to an administration dedicated to fighting for the forgotten and rebuilding an enduring middle class.

“Marty comes from a union family and a union town. He’s walked picket lines and knows workers’ struggles and power when they come together. He’s dedicated his career to getting things done—as a union rep battling for decent wages, healthcare and retirement security—and as a Mayor knowing a well-trained and prepared workforce builds back better, whether it’s infrastructure, manufacturing, public schools or other services.

“Marty will hit the ground running as a relentless worker advocate and ally, both inside the administration and in the public sphere. He will fight for dignity and respect for all workers, including for their right to unionize, for health and safety standards, to raise the minimum wage and to ensure workers and their unions have an opportunity to thrive. And he will help reverse President Trump’s four years of callous and craven attacks.

“The path to a better America runs through the labor movement, as the largest organized force for equality and justice. With Marty’s confirmation, workers will have a trusted partner at the Department of Labor to get the job done.”

The BTU’s Tang said: “We applaud the appointment of Martin J. Walsh as the new U.S. secretary of labor. He will be a tremendous asset to the nation and to the Biden-Harris administration as they advance a pro-worker and pro-union agenda to build back better for the benefit of all working people. Incoming Secretary Walsh has been a champion for the public good and for the rights of working people throughout his organizing, legislative and mayoral career.

“He will assuredly help to lead the U.S. Department of Labor toward a revitalized focus on lifting up the rights and needs of workers, rather than tearing down the rights of workers, as was unfortunately done through the Trump administration’s cynical abuses and misapplications of the powers vested in the Department of Labor. Walsh has fought for the interests of workers throughout his entire career—as a union organizer, as a legislator and as mayor—and Boston communities have benefited tremendously from his leadership.

“While, naturally, we have at times had disagreements, he has always committed to working through them and finding a solution. In negotiations, he has been supportive, fair and focused on what he feels is best for workers and the community, all through the lens of someone who truly respects and knows deeply firsthand the importance of organized labor in building a better future for our city and for our nation.

“Along with our colleagues across the AFT, the Boston Teachers Union will work hard to support the vision that we share with the Biden-Harris administration and with Walsh of a future in which every student and worker is able to access the education, training and other opportunities necessary to achieve safe, rewarding careers and healthy lives.”

Hoffa: Teamsters Applaud Nomination of Walsh as Labor Secretary

(WASHINGTON) – The following is a statement from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa on President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.

“The Teamsters are elated with President-elect Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as the next Secretary of Labor. Hardworking Americans will be hard pressed to find a person who stands up for their wellbeing more than Mayor Walsh, a 25-year union man himself who grew up in the movement and understands the struggles of regular people just trying to earn a living and support their families.

“As the former head of the Boston Building Trades and long-time president of Laborers’ Union 223 who also co-chaired the Massachusetts Democratic Party Labor Caucus while he was a state lawmaker, Marty Walsh knows that unions and workers have come under assault in recent years. Their interests have been subverted by corporations who have used the courts, legislation and deregulation to fatten their wallets at the expense of their workers.

“At a time when millions are out of work and struggling, working Americans deserve someone who will be in their corner while leading the charge for a fairer nation. The Teamsters urge the Senate to quickly confirm Mayor Walsh as Secretary of Labor once Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are sworn in.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at

TCU/IAM applauds the appointment of Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor, in a statement from TCU President Artie Maratea: “With this appointment, President Elect Biden is sending a strong message that working families will once again have a seat at the table.  Truly, the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish together with this administration. Brighter days are ahead.”

TCU/IAM Applauds the Appointment of Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor

Robert Martinez Jr., International President of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), issued the following statement:

“In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic and the worst economic period since the Great Depression, working people could not have asked for a better nominee for Secretary of Labor than Marty Walsh. As a long time union member, Mayor Walsh truly understands the needs of working men and women. He will restore fundamental labor rights, especially after four years of attacks from the Trump administration. 

“Mayor Walsh proved himself to be a fierce ally of our union by helping us fight back against the privatization of more than 400 IAM Local 264 bus mechanic jobs at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Thanks to Mayor Walsh joining our strong labor coalition, we saved those jobs for working families and Boston public transit riders. Mayor Walsh is a true fighter for working families, and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together on a national stage.

“The Machinists Union is eagerly looking forward to working with Mayor Walsh as he ‘builds back better’ at the Labor Department. The Senate should swiftly confirm him as the next Secretary of Labor.”

Statement from Lou Antonellis, Business Manager and Financial Secretary-Treasurer, IBEW Local 103, Dorchester, Mass.

“Marty Walsh is a tremendous leader with the kind of empathy, vision, and commitment to working families that our nation needs.

"IBEW Local 103 has seen firsthand that Marty Walsh is a champion for all working people. We share his values that every worker deserves access to great training, great careers, and a chance at the American dream.

"As an organizer, legislator, and Mayor, Marty Walsh has demonstrated his profound commitment to making stronger communities and safer workplaces.

"He has always centered the needs, health, and safety of workers in his approach – and we are thrilled to hear that he will be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor.

"We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and with incoming Secretary Walsh to ensure a future in our industry and beyond where all workers have family-sustaining careers that help to expand the middle class.

"It is testament to the vision and values of the Biden-Harris administration that they will be ensuring with the help of Marty Walsh that the Department of Labor once again focuses its efforts on improving the lives of workers across this country.”