When Martin J. Walsh got his union card in 1988, he essentially entered the family business. Laborers Local 223 counted his father as a member. It was led by his uncle. His cousin, Martin F. Walsh, now runs the union. Another cousin is the office manager.
Walsh himself only worked on the back-breaking side of the union for two years, hauling rocks and filling dumpsters, before taking a series of increasingly prominent desk jobs that culminated in a $175,000-a-year job as the head of the city’s largest building trades group.
During his 25 years as a union man, Walsh rose to become one of the key figures in Boston’s construction industry, a politically-connected labor leader who understood how to usher a project past neighborhood opposition, secure state financing, and keep the peace with developers.