U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will step down from his position, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday as media outlets reported he would move on to lead the National Hockey League (NHL) Players’ Association.
Walsh, a former Boston mayor and labor union president, would be the first of Joe Biden’s Cabinet secretaries to step down since the Democratic president took office in January 2021 and comes as Biden shuffles his chief of staff and economic advisers.
Biden, set to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress later on Tuesday, relied on Walsh to negotiate labor talks that helped avert a railway shutdown in September.
Walsh, 55, will step down in the days following Biden’s address, the Daily Faceoff reported on Tuesday, citing sources. Walsh will then start his new private-sector job as executive director of the NHL labor union, the hockey news website reported.
The White House declined to comment. The NHL Players’ Association did not respond to a request for comment.
Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su, a former California labor secretary, is expected to take over as acting secretary. Su, a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, previously headed litigation at the Los Angeles chapter of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice civil rights group.
Su could serve as acting secretary even if she is nominated for the post, Revolving Door Project founder Jeff Hauser said, citing her strong support from organized labor and California lawmakers.
“It would be a mistake for Biden to look elsewhere. … It’s also the path of least resistance,” he added.
Biden’s chief of staff and some of his top economic advisers are also stepping down. Ron Klain, the chief of staff, is serving his last day on Wednesday and will be succeeded by Jeff Zients, who handled the Biden administration’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese are expected to depart in the coming weeks. Biden is still weighing candidates for new top economic advisers who are expected to be announced after his Tuesday night address.
As Labor secretary, Walsh had vowed to boost union membership, a key issue for Biden.
The NHL players’ union represents 750 athletes, according to the organization.