U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh addressed the 40th IAM International Convention on Tuesday, October 4, applauding the work of the IAM over the years to advance workers’ rights. Walsh talked about the Biden administration’s policies aimed at improving the lives of working people and union members.
Walsh, a card-carrying union member, was sworn in as the 29th U.S. Labor Secretary on March 23, 2021.
“I’ve seen up close why our entire nation depends on you. Your members kept us going through a once-in-a-century pandemic,” said Walsh. “In the sky, on the ground, in factories – building critical equipment like ventilators that saved countless lives, you were there for the American people.”
Walsh is not new to the labor movement as he is the former President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 223 in Boston and rose to head the Boston Building Trades Council before being elected mayor of the city in 2013 and later reelected in 2017. Walsh was also a state representative from 1997 to 2014.
Walsh also spoke on historic legislation regarding pension plans such as The Butch Lewis Act, which was achieved thanks to the hard work of the IAM.
“I want to thank the Machinists for your powerful advocacy. You fought and fought and you would not accept defeat,” said Walsh. “President Biden heard you and millions of American workers thank you.”
Walsh has been an ally to the IAM since before he was sworn in as Secretary of Labor. As a state representative and then as a mayor, Walsh has stood by the Machinists Union as he defended more than 400 IAM Local 264 bus mechanic jobs from privatization. Walsh has also been key in expanding apprenticeship programs to help workers in industries represented by the IAM.
Additionally, Walsh praised IAM rail workers for their resilience and conviction at the bargaining table in recent negotiations with the National Railway Labor Conference.
“It has been a long, tough process going back two years, but you stood strong,” said Walsh. “You made it clear that rail workers deserved a better deal than what they had. I want to thank you for all you have done to lead the fight.”
As Walsh concluded his speech, he urged the IAM members to continue their resolve to keep fighting for working families and strengthening the middle class.
“Let’s seize this moment and keep fighting for good jobs, for the right to organize, and opportunities that reach all Americans,” said Walsh.