US Senate Confirms Former Union Leader Marty Walsh as Next Labor Secretary

March 22, 2021 Updated: March 22, 2021

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed former union leader Marty Walsh, a son of Irish immigrants, as the next labor secretary.

His confirmation, by a 68-29 margin on Monday evening, is likely to have a major impact on U.S. workplace laws and regulations as he looks to further enforcement of occupational safety and health rules, overtime payments, and the administration of employee benefit plans.

Walsh, 53, led Boston’s Building and Construction Trades Council for two years before winning the 2013 race for mayor with strong backing from large labor groups. He has also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Walsh has supported key proposals affecting workers, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and the PRO Act—a proposal to update labor laws and give workers more ability to organize at work that the House of Representatives passed last year.

“When I was running for Mayor, I was kind of put in a box saying he’s only going to be a labor person, he’s not going to be worried about business,” Walsh told reporters on Monday.

“I think we’ve proven over the last seven years that we can work across the aisle and get things done while also protecting the worker and I hope to do some of that same stuff in Washington,” he said.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported Walsh in a letter to the Senate last week.

Walsh was the last of Biden’s cabinet secretaries to be confirmed by the Senate, though two other cabinet-level positions remain to be confirmed.

“It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this moment … we will be stronger with Secretary Walsh in the fight ahead,” said head of America’s largest federation of unions AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

By Nandita Bose