Biden Nominates Julie Su as Next Labor Department Secretary

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. February 28, 2023

Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su

President Joe Biden on Feb. 28 announced he was nominating Julie Su to be the next secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Su, currently the deputy secretary of labor, previously was head of California's labor department. In that capacity, Biden said that she "cracked down on wage theft; fought to protect trafficked workers; increased the minimum wage; created good-paying, high-quality jobs; and established and enforced workplace safety standards."

Su would be the first Asian American person to serve in Biden's Cabinet at the secretary level. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.

Prior Experience

As California's labor secretary, Su worked closely with unions and employers to build training partnerships to connect people to union jobs.

Prior to serving as California's labor secretary, she was California labor commissioner, where she launched the "Wage Theft Is a Crime" campaign.

Su spent 17 years as a civil rights attorney. Once, she represented 72 Thai garment workers who were trafficked into the U.S. and forced to work behind barbed wire and under armed guard. Her work earned her a MacArthur "genius" award.

(The White House)

Acting Secretary

Su will serve as the acting secretary while the Senate considers her nomination. She was considered to lead the department when Biden won the White House but instead became the department's deputy. Marty Walsh was chosen instead to be Biden's first secretary of labor. He has left to lead the National Hockey League Players' Association.


Su's Confirmation Hearing for Deputy Secretary

During Su's confirmation hearing for deputy secretary, she faced questioning about unemployment insurance fraud in California. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said the nation shouldn't follow in California's footsteps.

But Su said the amount of fraud in California has been proportional to what other states have experienced. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., said Su's experience dealing with fraud in California would help her fight it nationwide.

(KQED and SHRM Online)

Some Opposition, Some Support

Some Republicans and business interests are likely to oppose Su's nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate. Tom Manzo, president and founder of the California Business and Industry Alliance, criticized Su as "presiding over a hostile approach to business owners" during her time as California's labor secretary.

However, Gregg Orton, national director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a coalition of 38 Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander organizations around the country, called Su "pre-eminently qualified."

(The Sacramento Bee)



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