Boston Mayor and Former Union President Confirmed as New Secretary of Labor
April 9, 2021
On Monday, March 22nd, the United States Senate voted 68-29 to confirm former Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as the Secretary of Labor. Before beginning his term as mayor, Walsh served as the President of the Boston Building Trades Council, a union trade council. Coming on the heels of the terminations of NLRB General Counsel Peter Robb and EEOC General Counsel Sharon Gustafson, Walsh’s confirmation is another loud statement confirming President Biden’s pro-employee, pro-Labor agenda. Walsh replaces Al Stewart, who served as acting Secretary after Eugene Scalia left office on January 20, 2021.
Why Should Employers Care?
The Secretary of Labor is one of several executive leaders who collectively form the President’s Cabinet and regularly have the President’s ear. Also, the Department of Labor is a $12 billion agency with over 17,000 employees. It is authorized to enforce and administer over 180 federal laws and thousands of federal regulations, affecting at least 125 million wage earners and ten million employers. Areas regulated include occupational safety, workers compensation, unions, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and employee benefits and protection, among many others.
Secretary Walsh’s term will likely promote a pro-union, pro-employee agenda, which could greatly impact employer’s rights. As Mayor, Walsh helped secure a statewide $15 per hour minimum wage by 2023, paid sick leave, and paid parental leave. He also worked to establish universal, high-quality Pre-Kindergarten for all children, and free community college for low-income students. During his time with the Building and Construction Trades Council, Walsh created a program called Building Pathways that has become a model for increasing diversity in the workplace by creating good career opportunities for women and people of color. It is fair to assume he would like to see the same developments at the federal level.
The Labor Secretary will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the Biden Administration’s pro-employee, pro-Labor agenda. Employers must take notice and ready themselves for a coming tide of continued pro-employee, pro-union appointments. More importantly, as new initiatives pass, you must begin to prepare for compliance. When laws and regulations change dramatically, the government often looks to make an example of some non-conformist. Let’s make sure that example is not you!
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.454.0560.