Feb 4, 2021
Labor Secretary Nominee Marty Walsh Opening Statement Transcript: Senate Confirmation Hearing
Secretary of Labor nominee Marty Walsh’s opening statement during his Senate confirmation hearing on February 4, 2021. Read the full transcript of his remarks here.
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Marty Walsh: (00:00)
Chairman Murray. I appreciate your introduction, ranking member Burr, I as well want to thank you. However, [crosstalk 00:00:06]-
Speaker 2: (00:06)
Marty hit that mic, would you.
Marty Walsh: (00:11)
I didn’t know I did that. Sorry about that. Thank you very much Chairman Murray for your introduction, I appreciate it. Ranking member Burr thank you as well. I’m not sure how much you helped me out there today with Senator Marshall. When you were talking about Tom Brady, he was looking at me, so we’ll have to work on that one later on as the hearing goes on. I want to thank you, Senator Warren, my friend, for that kind introduction. I also want to acknowledge Senator Hassan my neighbor and partner from New Hampshire. Senator Romney, whose administration I work with when he was Governor of Massachusetts. I want to thank all the members of this committee for inviting me to speak today. I want to welcome the new members of this committee to your hearing today for the first time and to the members that I’ve had opportunities to talk to I’ve enjoyed our conversations over the last couple of weeks, and look forward to talking to all the members of this committee and getting to know you on a personal level.
Marty Walsh: (01:01)
I want to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for the honor of this nomination. I share their commitment to the health and safety of the working people, carrying our country through this pandemic, this very difficult time. I share their commitment to building back better with an economy that works for every single American worker. In many ways, that has been my life work. Senator Warren mentioned my mother and father immigrated from Ireland in the 1950s. They both worked hard but our American dream did not take shape until my father had the opportunity to join the laborers union Local 223 in Boston. That union was my family’s way into the middle-class. It meant a fair wage so we could have security. It meant safety on the job site, so we didn’t have to live in fear of accidents, derailing our lives. It meant a pension, so my parents could retire with dignity and that meant health insurance.
Marty Walsh: (01:53)
At the age of seven years old, I was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a form of cancer. It was every parent’s worst nightmare, but with healthcare treatment and great treatment by doctors and nurses at Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the prayers from nuns and priests on both sides of the Atlantic I recovered. And I’ve had an amazing experience on my life’s journey.
Marty Walsh: (02:17)
As a young man, I followed my father into that union to construction. I saw firsthand the sacrifices that working men and women make for their families each and every day. In my twenties, because of the same benefits that enabled my cancer treatment as a child, I went into treatment for alcoholism. I’m a proud member of the recovery community today. Later on as a full-time legislator, I went back to college and earned my degree from Boston College at the age of 42 years old.
Marty Walsh: (02:46)
I share these personal details because they helped shape my understanding of struggling, working people and families face each and every day. And they inform my deep beliefs in the work of the department of labor. Workers’ protection, equal access to good jobs, the right to join a union, continuing education and job training, access to mental health and substance use treatment, these are not just policies to me, I lived them. Millions of American families right now need them. I’ve spent my entire career at different levels, fighting for them. As a state representative for 16 years, I worked on economic development and worker protections in collaboration with four Republican governors and one democratic governor. As general agent of the Metropolitan Building Trades Council I work with developers and contractors to secure good jobs and major investments. I also helped create a program called Building Pathways. It provides pre-apprenticeship training for union careers, for people of color and women. So their families can join the middle class, the way that my family did. I believe everyone, including veterans, LGBTQ Americans, immigrants, and people with disabilities must have full access to economic opportunities and fair treatment in the workplace.
Marty Walsh: (04:06)
For the past seven years, I’ve had the honor of serving as mayor of my hometown, Boston, Massachusetts. We’ve proven that we can create a world-class economy that works for working people. We secured a $15 an hour minimum wage, we expanded workplace training, we created groundbreaking policies to close gender wage gaps and increase racial equity and businesses thrived as well. We attracted $43 billion of investment. We grew the base of jobs as an American major city by nearly 20%, we manage public resources responsibly earning a triple a bond rating for each of the seven years for the first time that’s ever been done in Boston’s history. And when COVID struck, we were ready to meet the needs of working people. We were the first city in America to pause construction. We work with employers in labor on strong COVID protocols that allowed us to restart safely and build the homes and businesses and infrastructures of a strong recovery.
Marty Walsh: (05:05)
Throughout my career I’ve led by listening, collaborating, and building partnerships. That’s how, if confirmed, I will lead the department of labor. Right now we’re depending on workers, men, and women, to keep us going as they always have done and we are always depending on them. I believe we must act with urgency to meet this moment with determination, to empower our workforce and rebuild. If confirmed, I pledged to lead this work in partnership with workers in businesses, states, cities, and tribal territories. Employees in every single agency of the department of labor, the administration, members of congress from all parties and members of this committee. Thank you. And I look forward to hearing your questions.