WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 04: Labor secretary nominee Marty Walsh testifies at his confirmation … [+]
President Biden’s nomination of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to be Secretary of Labor will be voted on by the U.S. Senate this Monday, according to CBS News. The nomination, which has received support from both sides of the aisle, signals important changes ahead for the business community.
In a letter to the Senate last Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it supports the nomination, noting Walsh, “… has a reputation as a consensus builder and has displayed a willingness to work with a wide array of constituencies.”
According to the letter, which was signed by Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark, “Before and during his tenure as Mayor, [Walsh] launched the ‘Building Pathways’ program and the ‘Learn & Earn’ Career Development Internship, and has collaborated with the business community to promote high-quality commercial and real estate development.”
Clark encouraged Walsh, “… to pursue in enforcing the laws that govern and define the obligations businesses have to their workers.” The Chamber’s list included:
CBS News reported that, “The Senate finished debate on Walsh’s nomination last Thursday afternoon, setting the stage for the final vote” on Monday.
In February, by a vote of 18-4, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions approved Walsh’s nomination. Seven of the committee’s 11 Republicans joined all the Democrats on the panel in supporting the nomination.
In testimony before the committee on February 4, Walsh said, “I am a proud collaborator. Throughout my career I’ve led by listening, collaborating, and building partnerships. That’s how, if confirmed, I will lead the Department of Labor.”
Walsh cited examples of how he worked with businesses and labor unions in the past, and vowed he would collaborate with other federal agencies, business organizations, and Senators if confirmed.
Angela Reddock-Wright, a lawyer who specializes in employment law and workplace issue told me earlier that, “President Biden has already signaled his intent to make sweeping changes to the nation’s employment and labor laws and policies with some of the immediate changes he made to the National Labor Relations Board and by his appointments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”
Bob Nichols, a partner at law firm Bracewell LLP and lead attorney in their labor and employment practice, told me in January the business community “…should expect abrupt and far-reaching changes to the administration of federal workplace laws and regulations. For instance, employers must be prepared for vigorous enforcement of requirements related to occupational safety and health, payment of overtime, proper administration of employee benefit plans, and affirmative action.
“The contrast with what businesses saw from Donald Trump and Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia, will be pronounced and sometimes shocking for the business community. Beginning now, businesses need to be carefully re-examining their compliance with federal labor and employment laws,” Nichols said.
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