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The unions disagree on the election of Biden’s labor secretary

The split between Walsh and Levin was the reason, said one man. “A number of presidents were somehow angry about the whole thing,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive talks.

Union leaders have long expected it to prevail in the Biden administration, given its support for workers’ right to organize – and the Department of Labor will play a leading role in implementing Biden’s broad agenda for workers, making the role an obvious choice for organized labor for weighing. Biden met Monday with Trumka and the leaders of the International Union of Service Workers, the United Automotive Workers, the American Federation, state, county and municipal employees, and the United Food and Merchant Workers.

But the early division of potential candidates it may make it difficult for Biden to choose someone to gain support from all sides of the labor movement. It is also unclear whether any of the white male candidates backed by the unions will turn to Biden̵

7;s camp, which is trying to build a diverse cabinet.

Also in the lineup for the position is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is courting Biden’s camp – and, according to CNN, the AFL-CIO – while insisting on the job. California Labor Secretary Julie Soo, who is well praised by unions in her state, is another contender.

Biden and his team said they did not expect to make cabinet appointments closer to Thanksgiving, and those close to the transition said reports of leaders in senior agencies such as the Treasury and Public Services were likely to come to the ministry. of labor.

The unions will unite behind whomever Biden chooses, Trumka said in an interview.

“Once the nomination is made, everyone will be on the same page,” he said. “Because I have no doubt that the person Joe Biden will name will be an effective friend of the workers and will do the right thing for the working people.”

Still, Trumka and others in the labor movement are trying to put their thumbs on the scales.

The two largest affiliates of the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State and American Federations of State, County, and Municipal Employees, threw their weight behind Walsh last week. Trumka, though disapproving of Walsh, said it would be a “great choice.”

But not everyone is in the queue: United Trade Union of Utility Workers of America sent letters to Biden’s transition team on Tuesday, supporting Levin, who is a member of parliament’s Education and Labor Committee. National Nurses and United American Nurses also threw their weight behind Levin.

Levin has stronger ties to labor than some of the other names, with time spent as organizer of SEIU and more than a decade working for the AFL-CIO. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he also served in the Department of Labor during the Clinton administration and as Michigan’s chief executive under former Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

“Levin has both the knowledge and the expertise and connections in both the workers’ movement and the wider progressive movement, including the environmental movement, to be a truly effective and strong protector of families,” he said. economic policy Thea Lee, who worked with Levin at AFL-CIO, told POLITICO.

Levin was elected to represent Michigan in the House in 2018 after his father, longtime Congressman Sander Levin, decided not to run for re-election. So far, he has not campaigned openly for the work of the Ministry of Labor.

“The force behind this, if it happens, is not me,” Levin said in an interview. “I’m humbled that there are people I’ve worked with side by side for decades, saying they’d like that to happen.”

Walsh, for his part, heads the Boston Building and Construction Council before becoming mayor, letters of credit that could help the Biden administration attract workers across the aisle: 75 percent of construction workers who made political donations gave them to Trump’s presidential campaign.

Walsh and Biden also have a well-documented personal relationship: Biden not only spoke at the mayor’s inauguration in 2017, but the couple was spotted together in the city of Walsh on the anniversary of the marathon attacks, the Stop & Shop workers’ rally and even at a dinner meeting.

“He’s a friend and he knows Joe: They’ve worked together many times,” Trump said. “They have the connection I think is necessary.”

Current and former union officials have expressed concern about revelations of corruption under Walsh’s supervision as mayor, including a city official who pleaded guilty in September 2019 to accepting a $ 50,000 bribe. But Trumka quickly dismissed them: “This is nonsense,” Trumka said. “It had nothing to do with him.”

Walsh, on the other hand, pursed his lips.

“I am excited about the importance of the Biden-Harris administration to Boston,” he said in a statement. “Although it is an honor to be mentioned among the many highly skilled people who are considered a role in the Biden administration, I focus on my work as mayor of Boston. “

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