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Candidate for Mayor Michelle Wu Receives Endorsement of Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, and Unveils Plan for Cabinet-Level Worker Empowerment Chief

Released on: April 29, 2021

Boston, MA – City Councilor At-Large and Candidate for Mayor Michelle Wu was joined today by labor leaders Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Tom Mari, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 25, and Timothy Lasker, President of OPEIU Local 453, to unveil a new proposal to establish a cabinet-level Worker Empowerment Chief. They were also joined by Cambridge City Councilor Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler and Brookline Select Board Member Raul Fernandez.

In recent years, the City of Boston has taken steps to legislate worker protections, but without protocols in place to proactively investigate and enforce has continued to see tragic and preventable fatalities. The responsibility for supporting workers and enforcing labor standards, as well as investing in workforce development, is currently spread across several City departments, resulting in a lack of coordination and accountability.

As Mayor, Michelle will create a Cabinet-level Chief of Worker Empowerment with oversight and resources to advance working Bostonians -- ensuring transparency and accountability for wage theft, workplace safety, and other labor law violators; partnering with workers’ centers, unions, and community organizations to empower reporting and coordinate resources for workers to know their rights; setting policy to create sustainable career pathways in the new economy, especially for gig workers, care workers, and green jobs, and holding the city accountable to its own contracting laws. Read the full proposal HERE.

“In this pivotal moment, our economic recovery must center working families through building healthy, safe, and resilient communities. I have always been proud to stand with workers and labor unions to fight for equity, fair wages, and safe working conditions across our city. As Mayor, I will direct every resource in city government toward supporting our working families and coordinating our services for full accountability. It’s beyond time to create a cabinet-level Chief of Worker Empowerment to close gaps, elevate the dignity of work, and advance the well-being of all Boston workers and our communities,” said Michelle Wu.

“Michelle Wu’s leadership embodies Boston’s revolutionary spirit,” said Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “Her commitment to workers’ rights, affordable housing, a free MBTA, and climate leadership, are a bold vision that will move the city forward. As we recover from this pandemic, her plan to create a new Cabinet-level Chief of Worker Empowerment should be a model for cities across the country. I stand fully behind Michelle Wu and her vision for a stronger Boston.”

“Throughout Michelle Wu’s career on the Council, her support has not wavered for our members. Teamsters Local 25 and the Rest of the Labor Movement have fought hard for the Middle Class to be able to not only live and work in the City of Boston…but thrive in the City of Boston. Michelle has not and will not waver in her commitment to Teamsters Local 25 and Organized Labor and will continue to fight side by side with us for these common values,” said Tom Mari, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 25.

“Michelle Wu’s proposal to establish a Cabinet Position of Chief of Worker Empowerment shows her commitment to focus on critical issues at the workplace.  It will create a more transparent process in negotiating future contracts within the government and the private sector to achieve better pay and benefits and a more diversified workforce. In the long run this will create a more efficient and productive workplace environment,” said Timothy W. Lasker, President/Business Agent of OPEIU Local 453.

Michelle has a long record of standing up for workers’ rights. In 2014, she passed the Healthcare Equity Ordinance, prohibiting discrimination in health care coverage for City employees based on gender identity. In 2015, she passed the Paid Parental Leave Ordinance, providing six weeks of paid leave for new moms and dads working for the City. Her Communications Access Ordinance, passed in 2016, guarantees translation and interpretation for residents with limited English proficiency, and assistive technology for residents with hearing or visual impairments to access City services. She also filed legislation to require a Fair Work Week for workers at city-contracted companies. 

Michelle is proud to be endorsed in the Mayor’s race by Teamsters Local 25, OPEIU Local 453 and the Alliance of Unions at the MBTA, and has the most labor endorsements in the race.

Councilor Wu’s proposal for a Cabinet-level Chief of Worker Empowerment follows her bold vision to close the childcare gap, transform our public schools, Boston Green New Deal and Just Recovery Plan, Food Justice Agenda, Digital Equity Agenda and more.