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Biden Nominates Democratic Mayor, Former Union Leader To Head Labor Department

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President-elect Joe Biden will select Democratic Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his labor secretary, according to two people familiar with the decision.

Walsh, 53, has served as the mayor of Boston since 2014.

When he took the oath of office for his second term in 2018, Biden presided over the inauguration.

Before that, Walsh served as a state representative for more than a decade.

Walsh, a former union worker, served as president of Laborers Local 223 and, before becoming mayor, headed up the Boston Building Trades, a union umbrella organization.

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At Walsh’s second mayoral inauguration, Biden called him a “man of extraordinary character in a moment when we need more character and incredible courage.”

The son of Irish immigrants, Walsh grew up in Boston’s working class Dorchester neighborhood.

Walsh has been forthcoming about his struggles with alcohol addiction. He began his speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention by saying: “Good evening. My name is Marty Walsh, and I’m an alcoholic.”

“On April 23, 1995, I hit rock bottom. I woke up with little memory of the night before and even less hope for the days to come,” he said at the time.

Do you approve of this nomination?

“Everybody was losing faith in me, everybody except my family and the labor movement.”

His nomination was praised by union leaders on Thursday.

Mary Kay Henry, international president of the Service Employees International Union, said Walsh brings a “pro-worker vision” to the Labor Department and called him a “champion for working people.”

AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Walsh will be an “exceptional” labor secretary.

Walsh’s union history has led to some controversial moments as mayor, including when two of his former aides were charged with bullying music festival organizers into hiring union workers.

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Kenneth Brissette, the city’s former director of tourism, and Timothy Sullivan, who was chief of intergovernmental affairs, were convicted in federal court in 2019 of conspiring to extort the organizers of the Boston Calling music festival by withholding city permits.

A federal judge later tossed the convictions, saying the government failed to prove the existence of a quid pro quo.


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