WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed former union leader Marty Walsh, a son of Irish immigrants, as the next labor secretary, boosting U.S. President Joe Biden's efforts to expand workers' protection and delivering a win for the country's organized labor movement.
Walsh’s confirmation, by a 68-29 margin on Monday evening, is likely to have a major impact on U.S. workplace laws and regulations, including vigorous enforcement of occupational safety and health rules, overtime payments and proper administration of employee benefit plans.
Walsh, 53, led Boston's Building and Construction Trades Council for two years before winning the 2013 race for mayor with strong backing from large labor groups. He has also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Walsh has supported key proposals affecting workers, including a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and the PRO Act, a proposal to update labor laws and give workers more ability to organize at work that the House of Representatives passed last year.
Despite the far-reaching impact on employers and businesses, Walsh's nomination has not attracted much controversy.
During his nomination hearing, Walsh spoke about being collaborative, a trait that has won him support from large business groups.
"Throughout my career, I've led by listening, collaborating and building partnerships. That's how, if confirmed, I will lead the Department of Labor," he said.
In a letter to the Senate last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it supported Walsh's nomination, noting that he "has a reputation as a consensus builder and has displayed a willingness to work with a wide array of constituencies."
Walsh would be the last of Biden's Cabinet secretaries to be confirmed by the Senate, though two other Cabinet-level positions remain to be confirmed.