Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated longtime construction union leader Glenn Marshall to head the Department of Labor on Wednesday at a joint press conference where he also announced that he has picked Dennis Murphy as the deputy commissioner.
Malloy said that he picked Marshall because of his experience within the labor movement and the building trades. On the other hand, he picked Murphy, who is a neutral labor arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association, for his credentials in management.
The dual appointment was an effort to send a balanced message, Malloy said.
“I want a labor-friendly Labor Department and I want a management-friendly Labor Department. I want people to work together,” he told reporters. “Yeah I’m trying to send a message that this is a very balanced, even approach.”
However, Malloy said that the department needs to step up its enforcement, modernize its technology, and ensure that employers are playing by the rules.
Several union leaders lauded the appointment of Marshall, who currently serves as the president of Carpenters Union Local 210.
AFT Connecticut Second Vice President Leo Canty said that Marshall is a good fit for the position and is prepared to deal with the challenges ahead of him.
“I think he’s up for the run,” Canty said of Marshall following the press conference. “There’s no question in my mind that he’s got the skills and ability to understand how the workforce works and how the working people and the middle class in the state need to have their advocate and I think he’s a terrific advocate.”
A stagnant job market will likely be one of the challenges the new commissioner will face, Canty said. He said Marshall may even find himself playing a role in public sector negotiations, like previous commissioners who have stepped in to help kick-start stalled labor talks.
Kurt Westby, the state director of 32BJ SEIU, expressed his approval for the appointment. Westby, who leads the union for commercial cleaners and property service workers and who was rumored to be one of the candidates for the position, said Malloy’s pick shows that the governor is committed to creating good jobs and a fair economy in the state.
“It is important that this position be held by someone who will stand up for the state’s working families, and I know from years of working with Glenn as a fellow labor leader that he has the expertise, experience, and judgment needed to ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” Westby said.
Canty said Murphy’s appointment and the balance it suggests also sends a good signal and that it is a nice change of pace to have a governor who emphasizes the common interest between business and labor rather than encouraging controversy and competition.
“The bottom line for everyone in the state of Connecticut is that the number of our common interests exceeds the number of our conflicts,” he said.
Murphy echoed the same sentiments in his own statements saying “in this economy we can’t afford to label ourselves pro-labor or pro-business. Gov. Malloy expects all of us to be pro-Connecticut and to find ways to create new jobs and get people back to work,” he said.
Marshall will be paid a salary of $130,000 a year while Murphy will receive $105,000, according to a spokesperson for the Malloy administration.