On March 22, the U.S. Senate confirmed Marty Walsh to serve as the twenty-ninth Secretary of Labor by a bipartisan vote of 68-29. Walsh, who served as the Mayor of Boston since 2014, was virtually sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day. As the head of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Secretary Walsh will be responsible for several federal programs of critical importance to counties, including those authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Walsh outlined his priorities for DOL, including workforce development and ensuring equitable access to quality jobs. He further expressed support for President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Worker Health and Safety, which calls for an improvement in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) protection efforts related to COVID-19.
Secretary Walsh takes over leadership of DOL at crucial time, as millions remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about long-term unemployment and permanent job losses set in. He will also be responsible for developing and enforcing workplace safety regulations during the pandemic and beyond. Additionally, as President Biden’s American Jobs Plan takes shape, Secretary Walsh will be charged with the proposal’s labor and workforce development provisions.
Secretary Walsh’s leadership will be particularly impactful for counties, who receive federal funding through various DOL workforce and economic development programs. The department is responsible for overseeing registered apprenticeship programs, administering WIOA and funding and awarding grants focused on rural communities, among other activities.
Counties are grateful for administrative and Congressional action to support workplace safety and workforce development programs at the local level throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. NACo looks forward to our continued partnership with DOL under Secretary Walsh.
- NACo Policy Brief: Support Workforce and Local Business Development: The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)
- NACo Blog: House passes National Apprenticeship Act of 2021