Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is expected to step down from his job in the Biden administration to take over as head of the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), a source familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.
Walsh is expected to depart the administration in the coming days, the source said, making him the first Senate-confirmed Cabinet official in the line of succession to leave since President Biden took office.
News of Walsh’s exit was first reported by The Daily Faceoff, which said Walsh had emerged as a top candidate for the players union in the last few weeks. The outlet said Walsh had to wait until after Tuesday’s State of the Union speech to leave the administration.
The Labor Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Walsh was the mayor of Boston since 2014 before joining the Biden administration, and before that he was a member of the Massachusetts State House since 1997.
He has had various union roles throughout his career, including a stint as leader of the Building and Construction Trades Council in Boston. Walsh’s role with NHLPA, which is the union that represents professional hockey players, marks his return to organized labor.
As Labor Secretary, Walsh was at the forefront of Biden’s efforts to fulfill his pledge to be the most pro-union president in history, meeting frequently with union workers, including those on strike.
Walsh played a key role in negotiations between railroad operators and union workers to avoid a strike that officials said would have crippled the U.S. supply chain and damaged the economy. Congress eventually voted to impose a contract to avoid a strike after negotiations initially faltered.
Walsh’s replacement will need to be confirmed by a simple majority in the Senate, which Democrats would be able to do without a Republican vote since the party holds a 51-49 majority.
His departure from the Cabinet comes shortly after Ron Klain exited as chief of staff after a two year stint in the job, and as National Economic Council Director Brian Deese prepares to step down.
Walsh isn’t the first government official this year to head to an association that represents athletes. Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) will be the next president of the NCAA, effective next month, the association announced late last year.
— Alex Gangitano contributed
Source: The Hill