Who Is Marty Walsh?

Marty Walsh is the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden and was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris on March 23, 2021. He served as the Mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021.

Key Takeaways

• Marty Walsh is the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.

• Walsh served as leader of the Building and Construction Trades Council.

• He was the Mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021.

Early Life and Education

Marty Walsh was born on April 10, 1967, in Boston, Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor's degree from Boston College in 2009.

In 1988, Walsh joined Laborers Local 223, a construction workers union that represents over 20,000 men and women in the northeast. He started his career as a union laborer building scaffolding and bracing masonry walls along Boston's waterfront.

Walsh served as leader of the Building and Construction Trades Council from 2011 to 2013. Working with business and community leaders, he created a program called Building Pathways, a model for increasing diversity in the workplace and providing career opportunities for women and people of color.

Labor Union

An organized association of workers in a trade or profession that is formed to protect and further the rights and interests of the group.

Serving Massachusetts

Marty Walsh was an elected member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1997 until 2014 where he served as chair of the Committee on Ethics and as co-chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Labor Caucus. During his tenure, he focused on creating good jobs, protecting workers' rights, expanding mental health treatment, and investing in public transit.

Walsh was elected and served two terms as the mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021. He is credited with adding 140,000 jobs to the city and helped secure a statewide $15/hour minimum wage, paid sick leave, and paid parental leave. He established universal, pre-kindergarten for all children, and free community college for low-income students.

Secretary of Labor

As the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh leads the Department of Labor's (DOL) efforts to promote the welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees across the U.S., including administering and enforcing a wide range of labor laws.

Walsh is viewed by many Democrats as a strong choice for labor secretary because of his extensive experience and relationships with labor unions and is the first labor secretary in 50 years who is also an active union member.

During his first year at the Department of Labor, Walsh has taken steps to expand the Registered Apprenticeship program to create a skilled workforce for businesses of all sizes and reduce unemployment rates across the country.

In 2022, the Department of Labor announced the “Good Jobs Initiative” to focus on worker empowerment, employer engagement, and federal agency support for equity in historically underserved communities.

Notable Accomplishments

Marty Walsh was diagnosed at age seven and is a survivor of Burkitt lymphoma, a rare, aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects children. He endured four years of treatment.

Walsh is a member of the recovery community who has worked to expand addiction treatment throughout his career. In 1995, Walsh committed to a program to address his battle with alcoholism and its impact on his mental health.

How Does Walsh's Labor Union Experience Affect His Role at the Department of Labor?

Marty Walsh is actively visiting union halls around the country as Labor Secretary. He recently visited Washington state to meet with West Coast unions, the first visit from a Labor Secretary since 1934.

What Did Marty Walsh Accomplish as Mayor of Boston?

As Mayor, Marty Walsh oversaw the largest growth in real estate development in Boston's history. His experience in the building trades gave him a solid understanding of the economics and politics of development.

How Is the Department of Labor Addressing Mental Health at the Workplace?

As Labor Secretary, Walsh has committed the Department of Labor to provide employers with the steps they can take to increase access to care and promote mental health-friendly work environments.

The Bottom Line

Marty Walsh serves as the U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Biden Administration. His experience as a union laborer and leader and elected official in Massachusetts will help shape his efforts to administer and enforce labor laws and support wage earners in the United States.

Article Sources
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  1. Bluebeam. "How Marty Walsh Went From Construction Laborer to U.S. Secretary of Labor."

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "Office of the Secretary."

  3. The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "Marty J. Walsh."

  4. City of Boston. "A Quick Look at Boston's History."

  5. U.S. Department of Labor. "About Us."

  6. Education and Labor Committee. "Chairman Scott Statement on the Nomination of Marty Walsh for Secretary of Labor."

  7. Forbes. "A Conversation With Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh."

  8. CNN. "Marty Walsh Opens Up About His Sobriety."

  9. International Longshore and Warehouse Union. "Labor Secretary Marty Walsh Meets with ILWU."