President-elect Joe Biden is tapping Mayor Marty Walsh, a Boston native and former work union president, to be his Secretary of Labor.
Biden confirmed this nomination in a press release Thursday evening, alongside nominations of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to Secretary of Commerce, Isabel Guzman to Small Business Administrator and Don Graves to Deputy Secretary of Commerce.
“This team will help us emerge from the most inequitable economic and jobs crisis in modern history by building an economy where every American is in on the deal,” Biden wrote in the release. “They share my belief that the middle class built this country and that unions built the middle class.”
Walsh has not yet commented on the news, but the mayor’s press office said the public would be receiving additional information in the near future.
As Labor Secretary, Walsh would oversee a range of federal laws including minimum wage and overtime securities, as well as anti-discrimination policies and workplace safety regulations.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Walsh’s role as mayor will be temporarily filled by Boston City Council President Kim Janey until the City’s November election or until a special election before then.
“Should Mayor Walsh be confirmed by the Senate, I am ready to take the reins and lead our city through these difficult times,” Janey wrote in a statement Thursday. “I look forward to working with the Walsh administration and my colleagues on the Council to ensure a smooth transition, as we address the unprecedented challenges facing our city.”
Janey would become Boston’s first Black and first female mayor, although her powers would be limited to matters that cannot be delayed during her shortened term.
Walsh’s transition to the Labor Department would also trigger the City’s first mayoral election without an incumbent since former Mayor Thomas Menino declined to pursue a sixth term in 2013, sparking bids by a dozen candidates — including Walsh.
Michelle Wu, Boston city councilor at-large, and Andrea Campbell, councilor for the 4th district, announced mayoral bids in September. The pair of Democrats both congratulated Walsh Thursday afternoon.
In a tweet, Campbell called the position “a fitting role” for Walsh, given his history of labor advocacy.
Wu echoed these sentiments in a Thursday afternoon press release.
“There is much work to do to clean up the backwards, anti-worker policies of the Trump administration that have hurt so many here in our city,” Wu wrote, “and Boston needs a partner to fight for working families at the federal level.”
Wu added that Walsh would be the first union member to hold the position in nearly 50 years.
A later email to Wu’s supporters wrote that Walsh’s nomination makes the upcoming mayoral election “more critical than ever for our city.”
Walsh joined Laborers Local 223 Union in 1988, later serving as its president until being elected mayor in 2013. In 2011, he was made head of the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions — a collective representing construction trades.
Those labor connections were pivotal in his 2013 campaign for providing funding and volunteer support, according to a Boston Globe article.
Walsh’s nomination comes despite sustained pressure on Biden to create a diverse cabinet. Biden has vowed to build a “historic Cabinet” that reflects the nation’s diversity.
Walsh joins a growing number of Commonwealth figures selected for Biden’s incoming administration, including former U.S. Sen. John Kerry and Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will announce appointments at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
This is shameful. Mr. Walsh violated civic codes in his own neighborhood related to the care of seniors – Tuttle House, 35 Tuttle Street. He blocked inspection of the building and manipulated local relationships and the local civic organization, Columbia/Savin Hill Civic Association, to delay modifications to the building until its sale to Pine Street Inn. All this occurred while he was an acting board member of Tuttle House Inc, living at 12 Tuttle Street. This is not a nomination for public office that will heal our nation.