Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will step down from his role in the Biden administration to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association, Daily Faceoff, a hockey publication, reported Tuesday. Bloomberg Law confirmed the news.
DOL did not immediately respond to an HR Dive request for comment.
President Joe Biden said he nominated Walsh, previously the mayor of Boston, in part due to Walsh’s background as a labor union president. His tenure as labor secretary saw the agency roll back policies implemented by the Trump administration and introduce new regulatory interpretations on subjects such as joint employment and independent contractors as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
DOL’s biggest missed shot under Walsh is perhaps its attempt to implement a COVID-19 vaccination Emergency Temporary Standard under the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The ETS would have required employers with 100 or more employees to adopt a COVID-19 vaccination requirement as well as a weekly testing alternative for employees who refused or were unable to receive a vaccine.
Employer groups and other parties sued the department over the ETS, sending the issue up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which stayed the ETS and determined that OSHA lacked the statutory authority to issue the standard. Walsh said shortly after the court’s decision that he was “disappointed” in the outcome but that DOL urged "all employers to require workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly to most effectively fight this deadly virus in the workplace.”
The Walsh-era DOL also coincided with a time of wins for organized labor in the U.S. Union representation elections succeeded at high-profile employers including Starbucks, Amazon and Microsoft-owned ZeniMax studios. Public support for unions also increased by some measures, particularly among hourly workers. While the U.S. unionization rate declined between 2021 and 2022, the number of unionized workers grew in that time frame, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the employee benefits space, DOL finalized a rule last December on retirement plan fiduciaries’ consideration of environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors when making investment decisions.
DOL Deputy Secretary Julie Su is expected to take over as acting secretary, Bloomberg Law reported.