US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh leaving Biden administration amid offers to lead NHL Players’ Association

US Labor Secretary Marty Walsh plans to depart the Biden administration, making him the first major cabinet-level official to leave the White House this term, Bloomberg reports, citing unnamed people familiar with the decision.

Mr Walsh has reportedly been offered a role leading the National Hockey League Players’ Association, a labour organisation that represents the NHL’s athletes in the US and Canada.

The Independent has contacted the Department of Labor for comment.

The NHLPA told The Independent it doesn’t yet have news to share about its search for an executive director.

The former mayor of Boston and head of the city’s Building and Construction Trades Council was confirmed as Labor Secretary in March of 2021, and led the department through complicated labour questions such as contract negotiations for railway workers and deciding when employers could require vaccines to combat the Covid pandemic.

Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su is expected to fill in heading the agency until a new leader is confirmed.

The exit will likely inspire evaluations of Mr Biden’s labour record so far.

The president campaigned on being “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” but as The Independent has reported, labour activist say his administration has often prioritised “lip service” over meaningful interventions.

Mr Biden has been cheered for his public support of leaders like Amazon Labor Union president Christian Smalls, and for backing the PRO Act, but was criticised for throwing his weight behind a deal amid a brewing railway workers strike that raised wages but failed to meet key requests around sick leave.

“Don’t tell me who you are; show me. His actions speak louder than his words. And I don’t think this is a pro-labour decision – to put us back to work without addressing the issues that we were asking to be addressed,” Ross Grooters, a locomotive engineer and co-chair of Railroad Workers United in Iowa, told The Independent in December.

The Department of Labor also faced an uphill battle on vaccines, and its proposed emergency testing and vaccine standard during the height of Covid was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Secretary Walsh’s reported departure is the latest major staff shake-up at the White House, after chief of staff Ron Klain reportedly decided he would be leaving his role in the coming weeks.

The next secretary has their work cut out for them, as talks remained stalled on West Coast ports.

More than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports from California to Washington have been working without a contract since July, according to the Wall Street Journal.