Labor Secretary Nominee Su Awaits Senate Vote Amid Pushback

Role in California's AB 5 Is Focus of Trucking Concern
Julie Su
Julie Su speaks during a recent hearing in Washington. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg News)

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Nearly two months after a committee approved Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su’s nomination to lead the department, Democratic leaders in the Senate have yet to schedule a floor vote.

As Su’s nomination to become the next Secretary of Labor remains absent from the Senate calendar, various groups remain critical of her record.

A coalition of certain small business operators, tipped workers and freelancers — calling themselves “Stand Against Su” — are pushing back on the Labor leader’s policy positions during her stints in California and at the federal level.

“Thousands of workers have already suffered thanks to Su’s anti-business agenda. First as Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and currently as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor, Su has sought to restrict, regulate and eliminate worker independence at every opportunity,” according to the group.

Su’s record specific to her role in a California law known as AB 5 has been central to American Trucking Associations’ opposition to her nomination. The law adopted by the Golden State sets conditions for employers to reclassify independent contractors as employees.

“As we highlighted in a March letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, we have grave concerns over Ms. Su’s role in implementing California’s disastrous [AB 5], which essentially outlawed this business model for trucking,” wrote ATA President Chris Spear on June 2 to Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “Her responses to questions posed during committee consideration of her nomination and a lack of outreach to the business community she would be charged with regulating have failed to reassure the trucking industry on how she would approach such an existential issue if confirmed to lead the Department of Labor.”

During a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing this month, Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) noted the recent activities of commercial truck driver Dee Sova, an ATA America’s Road Team Captain, formerly based in California. Due primarily to the AB 5 law, Sova moved to Missouri. As Burlison put it on June 7, “She chose to leave California and move to God’s country — Missouri. And I’m glad to have her as a citizen.”

Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) emphasized the point, “Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in our economy, but that’s exactly what the Biden administration is doing, whether it be through attempting to overturn every right-to-work law in the country, eliminating independent contracting, jeopardizing franchise businesses, or rewarding union bosses with unchecked power by acquiescing to every item on their wish list.”


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On June 7, Schumer indicated he intends to schedule a vote on Su’s nomination. “We are working very, very hard to get Julie Su confirmed,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill.

President Joe Biden thanked Su for the role she played in ending the West Coast port labor talks, and said he had relied on her “deep expertise and judgment” to move the negotiations along.

“This is going to have a real positive impact on trade,” Biden said. “She's shown she's a true leader and I think she should be confirmed.”

In April, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced Su’s nomination by an 11-10 party-line vote to the Senate floor. “I believe that the Department of Labor should make it as easy as possible for employers to keep workers safe on the job. If confirmed, you can count on me to listen to employers’ views about how best to do that,” Su told senators.

If confirmed by the Senate, Su would succeed former Secretary Marty Walsh, who took on a position as the National Hockey League Players Association executive director.

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