Su Nominated to Lead Labor Department

Julie Su
Julie Su at her nomination announcement March 1. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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President Joe Biden recently nominated Julie Su to serve as the next secretary of the Department of Labor.

Su is currently serving as deputy secretary at the department.

If confirmed, Su would succeed Secretary Marty Walsh.

“It is my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our country’s next secretary of Labor. Julie has spent her life fighting to make sure that everyone has a fair shot, that no community is overlooked and that no worker is left behind,” Biden said Feb. 28.

“Over several decades,” the president continued, “Julie has led the largest state labor department in the nation, 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.”

Vice President Kamala Harris added: “Su is a longtime advocate for workers — first in my home state of California, and now as a leader in the Biden-Harris administration. She understands that the future of our economy depends on building a well-trained and inclusive workforce.”

Before working at the Department of Labor, Su was the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Her academic preparation consists of degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) praised Biden’s pick for the lead role at the department.

A hearing on Su’s nomination has yet to be scheduled.

“As a proven fighter for American workers, Julie Su will be a phenomenal labor secretary. Julie has been on the front lines of protecting workers’ rights as a veteran litigator for years. From helping place people in good-paying jobs, to fighting doggedly to combat wage theft, Julie learned the ins and outs of labor firsthand,” Schumer said Feb. 28. “I look forward to working with her on key issues for American workers, like updating the outdated overtime rule to pay workers what they’ve earned, training and connecting workers to good-paying jobs, and ensuring that workers are protected in the workplace. The Senate will work quickly to consider her nomination.”

Top Republicans, meanwhile, signaled pushback on her nomination. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, observed, “Deputy Secretary Su has a troubling record and is currently overseeing the Department of Labor’s development of antiworker regulations that will dismantle the gig economy. This does not inspire confidence in her ability to hold her current position, let alone be promoted. The [Health, Education, Labor and Pensions] committee should have a full and thorough hearing process to evaluate Julie Su’s nomination.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also asked a Senate panel to block the nomination of Su based on her backing of the 2019 California contract-worker law, known as AB 5, in her previous role as the state’s labor secretary.

“The law and its haphazard rollout has forced independent contractor truckers to leave the state of California, become an employee, attempt to reconfigure their business, operate under a cloud of uncertainty, or abandon the trucking profession altogether,” OOIDA CEO Todd Spencer said in a March 3 letter to Senate Labor Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and Cassidy.

Marty Walsh


Walsh, Biden’s first labor secretary and former mayor of Boston, is departing the administration for an executive role with the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Walsh echoed colleagues in praising Su’s nomination.

“Julie has been a true partner in leading the Department of Labor, and her drive and vision have been central to everything we have achieved over the past two years,” Walsh said March 1. “As deputy secretary, Julie’s achievements — prioritizing rights and protections for the most vulnerable workers; driving our equity work; attracting diverse, world-class talent into public service; modernizing workforce development and unemployment insurance systems; and deepening our engagement with state and local governments — have been broad and deep.”

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The Department of Labor has a key role in overseeing rules and regulations pertaining to independent contractors, workforce development and workplace safety standards.

With the Department of Transportation, Labor officials are working with industry stakeholders to advance paid apprenticeship and training programs designed to boost the trucking workforce. According to American Trucking Associations, the industry is short approximately 78,000 drivers, a decrease from the 2021 estimate of 80,000.

Contributing: Bloomberg News