UPDATE: March 23, 2021: The U.S. Senate confirmed Marty Walsh to be secretary of the Department of Labor by a vote of 68-29 late Monday. In Walsh's letter of resignation as Boston mayor on Monday night, he cited "historic investments in parks, libraries, streets, sidewalks, bike and bus lanes" among the accomplishments he achieved during his seven years at the helm. Kim Janey, president of the Boston City Council, took over as acting mayor Monday night. Janey is the first Black and first woman mayor of Boston.
- President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as labor secretary, the Biden-Harris transition team announced Jan. 7.
- As the first union member to fill the role in "nearly half a century" if confirmed, Walsh will be part of the incoming administration's effort to "usher in a new era of worker power," according to the transition team. Walsh became a member of the Laborers' Union Local 223 in Boston at 21, according to the Boston Globe, and served as the group's president before heading the Building and Construction Trades Council.
- The mayor pledged his support to the working class after his nomination was announced. "Working people, labor unions, and those fighting every day for their shot at the middle class are the backbone of our economy and of this country," he said in a tweet. "As Secretary of Labor, I'll work just as hard for you as you do for your families and livelihoods. You have my word."
Throughout his campaign, Biden voiced strong support for unions, a pledge he appears to be making good on so far. "You can be sure you will be hearing that word 'union' plenty of times if I'm in the White House," Biden said during a September virtual event hosted by AFL-CIO. "If I have the honor of becoming your president, I'm going to be the strongest labor president you have ever had."
Biden also promised to address climate reform — a top priority for Walsh as Boston mayor. Walsh serves as the chair of Climate Mayors, a coalition of nearly 500 U.S. mayors committed to climate mitigation. In Boston, he has targeted emissions, prepared the city's coastline for sea level rise, prepared vulnerable populations for climate impact and invested in green jobs, he recently told Smart Cities Dive.
To combat climate change, Biden has promised to create 10 million "well-paying" clean energy jobs, according to his campaign website. His promise to uphold labor rights will bolster this plan, his platform reads, and his administration will "pursue new partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector to develop programs to train all of America's workforce to tap into the growing clean energy economy."
More broadly, the Biden administration may revise a number of regulations put into effect by the Trump administration labor department. Such regulations include Fair Labor Standards Act requirements relating to the minimum salary threshold for white-collar overtime exemption, joint employer status and independent contractor qualifications.
Biden's platform called for DOL's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to double the number of investigators and enact emergency temporary standards for workplace safety amid the pandemic, a measure that the AFL-CIO requested in 2020 but a court declined to enforce.
If Walsh's nomination is confirmed, Boston City Council President Kim Janey is poised to step in as the city's first Black and first woman mayor, WBUR reports.