March 26, 2021
With HR Policy support, former Boston Mayor and union leader Marty Walsh was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor by the Senate this week by a bipartisan vote of 68–29.
Association President and CEO Tim Bartl stated that members “are encouraged by Mr. Walsh’s record of working cooperatively with the business community in several areas, including his collaboration around employment and career opportunities.”
Walsh will be immediately tested by the Department of Labor’s pending rollout of a COVID-19 workplace safety standard. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was scheduled to release an Emergency Temporary Standard creating minimum workplace safety requirements related to COVID-19 on March 15. However, reported debates over the proper scope of the standard and other issues have delayed its release.
Walsh commented on the forthcoming standard in a recent interview, noting, “I’m working with the team here now. I had a quick briefing [Tuesday]. I have another briefing today to talk about the emergency temporary standard, and then hopefully we’ll have something we’ll be all looking at some point real soon. We’re going to take our time to get it right.”
Walsh will also face already moving regulatory efforts in the joint employer and independent contractor areas. Earlier this month, the DOL began the process of rolling back Trump-era rules on joint employer liability and independent contractor status. It is expected that the Biden DOL will eventually replace each rule with its own version.
The Association “hopes to meet with Mr. Walsh soon to begin a relationship of mutual understanding and collaboration” and engage on these issues and more, including paid leave and employee voice.