Walsh and Biden also have strong personal connections. Not only did Biden speak at the mayor’s inauguration in 2017, the two were spotted together in Boston on the anniversary of the Marathon bombings, at a rally of Stop & Shop workers and at dinner.
“He’s a friend and knows Joe: they’ve worked together a number of times,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told POLITICO in November. “They have the relationship that I think is necessary.”
The decision to appoint Walsh is a blow to AAPI lawmakers and outside groups, who have been pointing out for weeks that Biden has yet to hire an Asian American for a post as his Cabinet secretary. The Secretary of Work seemed to be one of his last and perhaps most likely opportunities.
Biden has previously appointed two Asian American women, Neera Tanden and Katherine Tai, to cabinet positions in the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, respectively. But none of those positions are at the secretary level, where at least one AAPI candidate has held a seat for more than two decades.
If confirmed, Walsh would step into the job at one of the most critical times in history for the U.S. workforce, with millions out of work and facing the loss of their unemployment benefits , and a tightly divided Congress poised to stand in the way of Biden. major legislative initiatives. Yet the Secretary of Labor has the power to enact regulatory changes that can make the workplace safer and more secure and empower employees.
American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said Walsh’s connection to Biden and his own background would make him effective. “Marty achieves this with a closeness to the president-elect and an ability to get things done,” she told POLITICO.
AFL-CIO’s two largest affiliates, AFT and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, weighed their weight behind Walsh, a former head of the Boston Building and Construction Trades Council, a group coordination for unions.
“Marty is a star, and he could get into dealing with the issues and the impact on working families,” AFSCME President Lee Saunders said earlier this month.
Trumka, while stopping before formally endorsing Walsh, said in November that he would be a “great fit” who “has a strong bona fide union; he has leadership experience and a track record that would make anyone who works very, very proud.
Support, however, was not unanimous: The American Auto and Utility Workers’ Union sent letters to Biden’s transition team supporting Levin, and National Nurses United and Communications Workers of America. also put their weight behind Levin. The United Farm Workers of America spoke out in favor of Su.
Three of the largest unions in the United States – the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union, and the Teamsters – are not part of the AFL-CIO and have not endorsed candidates for the top position.
In fact, the rift between AFL-CIO affiliates and the push by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Su’s favor raised doubts that Biden would choose Walsh.
But he had the support of the majority of unions all the time, Saunders said. “Each union makes its own decision, but the overwhelming majority support Marty as Secretary of Labor,” he said.
Current and former union officials have raised concerns over revelations of corruption under Walsh’s watch as mayor, an office he has held since 2014. It includes a city employee who pleaded guilty in September 2019 for accepting a bribe of $ 50,000. But Trumka was quick to dismiss them: “It’s absurd,” he said. “It had nothing to do with him.
Walsh, for his part, has kept a low profile throughout the process.
“I’m excited about what a Biden-Harris administration means for Boston,” he said in November. “While it is an honor to be mentioned among the many highly qualified individuals being considered for a role in the Biden administration, I am focused on my work as mayor.”
Until the announcement, Walsh was largely expected to run for a third term in 2021, although he did not announce his plans. In November, he told reporters he looked forward to working with the Biden administration “as mayor for many years to come,” quashing speculation he might be in Washington.
Walsh also raised over $ 323,000 in November and recently spent $ 40,000 on surveys, signaling that he would be running for the mayor’s office again. He also didn’t endorse Biden in the Democratic primary, choosing to stay neutral instead.
Megan Cassella and Stephanie Murray contributed to this report.