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Marty Walsh, President-elect Biden's nominee for labor secretary. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Biden has named Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for labor secretary. If confirmed, Walsh will be tasked with leading the country's workers through one of the toughest eras in recent memory.

The big picture: Americans are confronting workplace safety during a pandemic, wrestling with the instability of gig work, experiencing widespread unemployment and more.

What they're saying: Normally, I would say, 'Who cares who is labor secretary?'" says John Logan, a U.S. labor historian at San Francisco State University. "This time there does seem to be more substance."

Here are some of the biggest issues Walsh will have to tackle from day one:

  • Revitalize the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "OSHA has been severely neglected under the Trump Department of Labor," with the number of inspectors falling every year except 2020, Logan says. Look for Walsh to build this agency back up, as it plays a huge role in curbing the spread of the virus within workplaces.
  • Address the inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Walsh's Department of Labor will be tasked with examining how and why the pandemic recession has disproportionately hurt communities of color.
  • Issue guidance on the classification of gig workers. Walsh will have to wade into the national debate over whether gig workers are employees or independent contractors.

Go deeper

Unemployment filings explode again as pandemic slams job market

Volunteers distribute meals at a food bank in Pennsylvania last month. (Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

More than 1.4 million Americans filed for jobless claims last week — a figure that includes first-time filings for regular state unemployment and another program for non-traditional workers.

Why it matters: It’s another surge in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, an additional sign the labor market is facing more strain as the coronavirus continues to ravage the country.

Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
4 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.