US Senate Confirms Former Union Leader Walsh As Labor Secretary | News from the United States and Canada

With a vote, the Senate completes confirmation of Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees to head 15 key U.S. executive agencies.

The United States Senate has confirmed Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former local union leader, as the next United States Secretary of Labor.

The Senate voted 68-29 Monday to confirm Walsh as the head of the Labor Department, which is responsible for nationwide workforce policies, including workplace safety and standards for wages and working hours.

Walsh’s confirmation completed Senate confirmation of the Cabinet nominees of President Joe Biden to head 15 key executive departments in the United States.

The role of the U.S. Secretary of Labor is generally more proactive in Democratic administrations than in Republican administrations, and Walsh will take the job at a time when the The United States faces high unemployment, worsening economic inequalities and growing controversy over the rules governing construction workers.

Walsh, 53, is the son of an Irish immigrant who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in the city of Boston.

As a young man, Walsh had followed his father into the construction work and joined Local 223 of the Workers’ Union, where he became president.

He was elected mayor of Boston in 2014 and was a member of the United States House of Representatives representing Massachusetts from 1997 to 2014.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, President-elect Joe Biden’s candidate for Secretary of Labor, is the son of an immigrant Irish construction worker and a former local worker union leader. [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

“American workers will finally have one of their own at the head of the Department of Labor – someone from American workers who will fight for American workers,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer said that under former President Donald Trump, the Labor Department “too often sided with American business, not the American workers it was trained for.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 28 other Republicans voted against Walsh’s confirmation on Monday, complaining that the Biden administration’s first labor policy measures would not create jobs.

“The Biden administration has already signaled that it will ask [Walsh] to implement a variety of policies that don’t serve the long-term interests of American workers, ”McConnell said.

On February 28, Biden posted a video message to Twitter supporting an Amazon employee battle in Alabama to form a collective bargaining unit. Rarely do US presidents engage directly in organizing.

“I made it clear during my campaign that my policy would be to support union organizing and the right to bargain collectively,” Biden said.

“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda,” he said.

The AFL-CIO federation of unions is seeking to pass legislation in Congress that would promote and protect workers’ rights to organize into unions.

A February survey by the AFL-CIO found that 58% of likely U.S. voters support the Labor Department by using enforcement power to crack down on platforms like Uber and Instacart that treat workers like independent contractors – which means that they do not benefit from social advantages.

Walsh’s confirmation completes Biden’s cabinet on day 61 of his presidency.

To fill the rest of his administration, Biden has yet to appoint dozens more to key under and assistant secretary positions in Cabinet departments and other agencies.

Later this week, the Senate is set to confirm Biden’s candidates for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, US Surgeon General, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services and the deputy secretaries of the energy and treasury departments.

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