By Mark Gruenberg
Organized labour of the United States of America, for the first time in years, will have a unionist at the president’s Cabinet table, as Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as U.S. Labour Secretary. This is a major appointment and the selection of an active trade unionist signals that Biden has taken into account the Left pressure for a change in labour policy in favour of workers.
Walsh, who was reportedly pushed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, beat out other candidates, notably candidates of colour, whom some other unions supported. One was Julie Su, California’s Labour Commissioner, an Asian-American.
The Labourers are “ecstatic and thrilled” by Biden’s choice, said union President Terry O’Sullivan. The pick also pleased the Amalgamated Transit Union, the Teachers (AFT), and the School Administrators. Walsh “will help level the playing field between employers and workers,” said President Ernest Logan.
O’Sullivan called Walsh “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.” Unions have also been a central part of Walsh’s subsequent political career, O’Sullivan noted.
“With his dedication and devotion to the cause, the purpose, and the mission of the labour movement, Walsh will restore and re-energize the Department of Labour’s role as a powerful guardian of workers, and strong and effective enforcer of labour 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.”
“In choosing the union card-carrying Walsh to head a department tasked with administering and strengthening the nation’s labour and employment laws and protecting our workers, President-elect Biden has shown his support for unions,” ATU President John Costa said. “Mayor Walsh understands firsthand the struggles of the working class and has fought tirelessly to improve the rights and conditions of working people and their families.”
Walsh “will hit the ground running as a relentless worker advocate and ally, both inside the administration and in the public sphere,” said AFT’s Weingarten. “He will fight for dignity and respect for all workers, including 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.”
Weingarten had a shorter, pithier comment on another Cabinet move: The resignation of Trump regime anti-teacher, anti-public school Education Secretary Elizabeth “Betsy” DeVos, who quit in disgust Jan. 7 over the Trump-incited invasion of the U.S. Capitol. Weingarten had blasted the invasion. Said Weingarten of DeVos: “Good riddance.” (IPA Service)