Labor Secretary Biden: It's time to stop running the N.H.L. - Liberty

Friday, November 17, 2023

Labor Secretary Biden: It's time to stop running the N.H.L.

Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh helped strengthen the Biden administration's pro-union credentials. Erin Scott

Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh will leave the Biden administration to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, the union announced Thursday.

Walsh, a former mayor of Boston, heads Boston's powerful building and construction industry council and has been instrumental in strengthening the Biden administration's pro-union credentials following the Trump administration's relatively apathetic approach. Helpful. We have entered an era of more aggressive workplace regulation. management.

Walsh said in a statement that he will leave the Department of Labor in mid-March.

Walsh is arguably the most overt supporter of partnerships in his administration, alongside President Biden, who has shown more support for unions than any other president in decades.

Union membership fell to 10.1% of his workforce last year, hitting a record low, but a wave of organized workers at big companies like Starbucks, Amazon, and Apple. In the country, it is increasing. That's pushing his 30% up. He added about 10,000 members. Walsh welcomed the trend, warning employers to respect workers' wishes to unionize and to refrain from coercive tactics.

In an August interview, when asked about the complaints filed against Starbucks by the National Labor Relations Board, he said, "As Secretary of Labor, I don't appreciate it. added that they "should be treated fairly and respectfully, not intimidated." Starbucks has denied violating labor laws.

In the Inflation Reduction Act, a key climate and health bill Biden signed into law last year, Walsh introduced worker-friendly provisions, such as encouraging clean energy project owners to pay wages similar to union rates. Did. bottom. He contributed to the promotion.

When it comes to regulation, Walsh's approach is most evident in the Department of Labor's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. An agency within the department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has refused to issue new workplace rules to control Covid-19 under President Donald J. Trump.

However, Biden and Walsh called on authorities to issue two so-called emergency standards. One outlines the steps employers in the healthcare industry must take to protect their employees. Another requires employees to have or wear a coronavirus vaccination. Wear a mask and get tested regularly. The Supreme Court upheld another agency's provision requiring vaccinations for workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-funded facilities but blocked the latter's rule.

Following Mr. Biden's executive order, the Labor Department last year issued a rule raising the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour. Millions of workers in industries such as home care, construction, and gig work are more likely to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors, with minimum wages and overtime pay guaranteed. Wages rising. . I proposed another rule to allow construction workers on federally funded projects to be paid.

The company recently named six Amazon warehouses to create work environments that put workers at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Amazon says the charges do not reflect its steps to ensure worker safety.

Anne Rosenthal, a longtime Labor Department attorney in the first year of the Biden administration, said Walsh cites trust from unions and other worker advocates as the 13th secretary. of political instincts and pragmatism, she was one of the most gifted.

Walsh's tenure in the department was not without controversy. Most notably, in September he brokered a deal between a major freight rail company and his 12 unions representing more than 100,000 of his rail workers. The deal helped stem the devastating strikes that preceded the midterm elections and helped improve healthcare benefits and wages by nearly 25% in five years.

However, there was no paid sick leave in the contract, and some workers complained that it did little to ease the grueling and unpredictable schedules that were stressing their personal lives and health. Members of four railroad unions voted against the deal, but the administration urged Congress in November to mandate it, and the president signed legislation enacting it. (Last week, CSX, one of the railroad companies, announced an agreement with the union to provide paid sick leave to about 5,000 workers four times a year.

Critics also complained that his OSHA under Mr. Walsh wasn't enough to protect his workers from Covid-19. They said government agencies need to devise regulations that apply not just to health care, but to a range of high-risk industries, including meat processing, grocery, and retail. (The ministry said it has the authority to ensure worker safety in those industries through other means, such as so-called general obligation clauses.)

Other rules, such as the Independent Contractors Rule and rules governing construction worker wages, were proposed during his first two years in the Biden administration but did not reach a final decision.

And Walsh and his administration colleagues advocated the unionization of workers, including the Protection of the Right to Organize Act and his PRO Act, which prohibited employers from requiring workers to join unions. made it easy. under. A failed effort to win the bill. It held anti-union conferences and made it possible to impose penalties on employers who violated labor laws. The House passed the bill, but it stalled in the Senate.

The Senate also overturned his $4,500 incentive bill for consumers to buy electric cars assembled in factories that partner with national labor unions.

The Ohio battery plant, a joint venture between General Motors and South Korean manufacturer LG Energy Solutions, recently formed a union. But without the kind of bill, the Senate is hesitant about, labor unions will face a longer period to organize new battery and electric car factories that are booming in the South.

Walsh is a longtime Boston Bruins fan and receives political donations from his hockey team's owner. Hockey publication The Daily Faceoff previously reported on his contributions.

The New York Times reported last month that Walsh was among the candidates being considered to replace Ron Klein as Biden's chief of staff. That job eventually went to Jeffrey D. Zientz.