DOL Secretary Walsh Reportedly Leading Candidate to Helm NHL Players’ Association

The approval of Walsh to head the NHLPA is considered a “formality.”

Marty Walsh

U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh is expected to resign his cabinet post to become the next executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, according to news reports.

The Toronto-based NHLPA is the workers’ union that represents National Hockey League players. The news was first reported Tuesday by hockey news website Daily Faceoff. Reports indicate Walsh has not been formally hired by the NHLPA, with a final vote set to take place later this week that Daily Faceoff described as a mere “formality.” The DOL did not respond to a request for comment, and neither the DOL nor the NHLPA has confirmed the news.

ESPN is among the outlets to have reported the news about Walsh’s new role at the NHLPA, citing anonymous sources.

The move would put Walsh, the mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021, back atop a labor organization. From 2011 to 2013, he was the head of the Boston Building Trades Council.

Walsh leaves the DOL at a time when it is fending off a recent lawsuit from 25 states seeking to overturn a DOL rule that permits the use of ESG in retirement plans, while also preparing for many rulemaking obligations derived from the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022. The most resource-intensive obligation from SECURE 2.0 would be the creation of a “lost and found” for retirement plans: SECURE 2.0 requires the DOL to create this database by the end of 2024.

Bradford Campbell, a partner in the Faegre Drinker law firm and former head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, says the Labor Department’s work should not be impeded if Walsh leaves.

“While Secretary Walsh’s departure obviously does impact the policy direction of the agency, I do not think it is likely to fundamentally change DOL’s actions on ESG or SECURE Act 2.0 issues,” Campbell said. “Assistant Secretary [Lisa] Gomez has both the personal expertise and the legal authority to lead the agency’s guidance and regulatory activities in this area, and she appears likely to remain in place, as she only recently took office.”

Walsh would be the first member of President Biden’s cabinet to resign, according to research from The Brookings Institution.