Senate confirms Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to lead Labor Department

“Secretary Walsh will bring the experience necessary to meet our current challenges, including reopening the economy and getting Americans back to work quickly and safely,” said North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, senior GOP member Senate Working Committee. “Secretary Walsh also understands that there must be a balance between work and management.”

Walsh said during Monday’s press conference that he would travel to Washington on Tuesday to be sworn in and officially step down as Boston mayor that evening. He is expected to be working in the Frances Perkins Building this week.

The unions welcomed Walsh’s endorsement as a move to a more worker-friendly labor department.

“Working families have lived with a labor department dedicated to a handful of elite interests for four years,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, in a statement on Walsh’s endorsement. “Now the authority to enforce safety and justice in our workplaces has been transferred from a ruthless corporate attorney to a proud union brother.”

“He will work to expand rights, freedoms and protections for all, not just the rich and corporations,” added AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “As the Labor Secretary and close ally of the President, he will be a powerful and effective voice for the working people in the Biden administration.”

Walsh is tasked with implementing the Biden Administration agenda in the department, which includes, among other things, stricter enforcement of workplace safety and the expansion of training opportunities for apprenticeships.

The labor protection agency is currently working on a coronavirus-specific safety standard for temporary emergencies, according to which employers must take certain measures to protect their employees from exposure to the virus.

President Joe Biden asked the agency to finalize the standard by March 15. However, so far the Bureau of Administration and Budget has not indicated that it received the standard for review – the final step before the rule is publicly released.

Walsh will also oversee the agency as it administers emergency programs for pandemic unemployment, which was a major target of fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic, and provides technical assistance to government agencies struggling to pay off much-needed aid.

Some of these programs were extended to September under the Democrats. nearly $ 2 trillion bailout package Adopted earlier this month.

The Department of Labor issued guidance last week instructing states on how to implement these new changes. But Walsh’s work is cut out for him: states have struggled to reprogram their outdated computer systems to pay out the aid, and some have only recently started paying out some of the benefits granted under the December aid package.

Walsh is the last cabinet official to be confirmed, and the vote followed a flash of Senate action against Biden’s cabinet nominee in recent weeks after the government’s approval rate lagged behind that of his predecessors.

“American workers will finally have their own Labor Department head, someone from working America who will fight for working America,” said Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Senate minority on Tuesday.

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