Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden selects Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for labor secretary

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is shown delivering a speech.
Mayor Marty Walsh. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Joe Biden plans to name Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his labor secretary and task him with leading a manufacturing renaissance across the country, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The president-elect and his advisers are aware that the Democratic Party, once the home of blue-collar workers, has lost the political loyalty of many union households and are determined to win many of them back.

  • Walsh came up as a union official, led Boston’s Building and Construction Trades Council and has the backing of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
  • The former state representative succeeded the late Tom Menino, Boston’s longest-serving mayor, and has received positive reviews for his coronavirus response. But he’s also hearing footsteps from women and minority candidates interested in challenging him for re-election.
  • Walsh's selection was first reported by Politico.

Of note: The selection of Walsh means Boston will have its first-ever woman mayor and first-ever Black mayor — at least on acting basis.

The big picture: “Joe from Scranton” has prided himself on having good relations with unions throughout his career, and he plans to tap those relationship to push a big infrastructure bill through Congress.

  • Biden has touted his “Build Back Better” plan as a way to provide high-paying wages to unionized workers and “reshore” America’s manufacturing supply chains from overseas.
  • Those union relationships have made Biden’s choice for Cabinet secretaries agonizing, since he has had to navigate to avoid union rivalries in both the education and labor movements.

What they are saying: "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," said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. 

  • "Marty comes from a union family and a union town," she said.
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