Labor Secretary Marty Walsh confirmed Thursday he will leave his position in the Biden administration in March and assume the role of executive director for the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the sports union announced.
Walsh’s exit marks the first Cabinet secretary departure of Joe Biden’s presidency.
“Earlier this week I met with @POTUS and he accepted that my time as Labor Secretary will conclude mid-March,” Walsh tweeted. “As a second-generation card-carrying union member, serving as your Secretary of Labor in the most pro-worker administration in our history is an immense privilege.”
In a series of tweets, Walsh wrote, “I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the exceptional work and support of my partner in this endeavor, Deputy Secretary Julie Su. With the kind of leadership assembled across @USDOL, I am confident there will be continuity and the work will be sustained.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus recently threw its support behind Su’s potential appointment as Walsh’s replacement in a significant public display of support for an Asian American to join Biden’s Cabinet.
Su, a former California labor secretary, was believed to be among Biden’s finalists for labor secretary the first go around that ultimately went to Walsh. Former Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who had support from major unions, was also thought to be a finalist. Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders had sought the support of labor leaders, but was largely rebuffed.
“I leave @USDOL with a deeper understanding of why working people are the heart and soul and strength of our nation. I believe in the promise and resilience of our nation now more than ever. Thank you for everything,” Walsh added.
Walsh will begin his new role at the NHLPA in mid-March, the players’ association tweeted earlier Thursday.
His exit comes as two of Biden’s closest and most powerful advisers – chief of staff Ron Klain and Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council, have announced their own departures. Klain’s emotional last day took place earlier this month and Biden named Jeff Zients, his former Covid-19 response chief, as his replacement. Biden named Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard as Deese’s replacement.
Biden will lose another critical adviser in Walsh, with whom Biden has retained a longstanding relationship.
Walsh, a union member from the age of 21, brought a combination of political and labor credentials that paid off in critical moments – proving useful in key negotiations between railroad companies and unions to narrowly avoid a strike in November.
This story has been updated with additional details.