GLOBE: Protecting workers will be a key role for new state labor secretary

December 19, 2014

In “Baker names Democrat as secretary of labor” (Metro, Dec. 13), the Globe highlights the pressing need for a well-run workforce development program within the Baker administration and the strong experience that Ronald L. Walker II brings as incoming secretary of labor and workforce development. What’s missing from the article is the equally important labor role that the secretary plays, protecting the safety, wages, and working conditions of the Commonwealth’s workforce.

With too many Massachusetts workers toiling in an underground economy, being unlawfully misclassified as subcontractors, and laboring in unsafe conditions, as was described in your Dec. 14 editorial “Off the menu,” the Labor Department plays a critical role in protecting workers and ensuring that law-abiding businesses are not undercut by those who underpay wages or fail to purchase workers compensation. 

The Labor Department will also be responsible for implementing a new state employee safety and health law, which is poised to dramatically reduce workplace injuries, illness, and death.

Given Walker’s wealth of experience, I have every reason to believe he will excel at both labor and workforce development roles.
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb 

Executive director 

Massachusetts Coalition for 

Occupational Safety and Health