United States President Joe Biden has put Julie Su as his nominee for labor secretary, selecting a seasoned workers’ advocate to oversee a crucial aspect of his administration’s agenda. Su, currently serving as the Labor Department’s deputy secretary, emerged as a clear frontrunner among organized labor and the Democratic Party in the wake of Marty Walsh’s resignation from the role to head the National Hockey League’s players’ union. Before her current position, Su held the labour secretary post in California for seven years, earning a reputation as a strong advocate for low-wage workers and immigrants.
Julie Su, former California labor secretary, has been nominated by President Biden as the next Labor secretary, potentially becoming the first Asian American to head a Cabinet department during his presidency if confirmed.#JulieSu #PresidentBiden #JoeBiden #LaborSecretary #Biden pic.twitter.com/b6gFdJbpRP
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) March 1, 2023
Su was also a driving force behind a controversial law that tackled the classification of workers as independent contractors, which faced opposition from tech firms such as Lyft and Uber. Her appointment is expected to win the support of labor unions and worker advocacy groups. She is seen as someone who will push for stronger protections and better wages for working people.
First Likely Asian American Woman to Serve as Labor Secretary
If Senate confirms, Su would be the first Asian American woman to serve as labor secretary. Although she had been seen as the leading candidate for the role of labor secretary, other contenders, such as Sara Nelson, president of the flight attendant union and supported by Senator Bernie Sanders, were also considered by the Biden administration. While labor groups likely welcome Su’s nomination, it may encounter significant opposition from Republican lawmakers in Congress, who may seek to obstruct her confirmation in the Senate. Democrats currently have a slim two-vote majority in the Senate, which means that moderate party members may hold sway over Su’s appointment.
Biden praised Julie Su for her lifelong commitment to ensuring fairness and equality for all workers, regardless of their background or circumstances. In his statement announcing Su’s nomination as labor secretary, the president highlighted her accomplishments as the head of California’s labor department, where she tackled issues such as wage theft, worker trafficking, and workplace safety standards. Su is also credited with creating high-quality jobs and raising the minimum wage during her tenure. If confirmed, Su would take over from Marty Walsh, who held the position at the beginning of Biden’s presidency and recently announced his resignation.
Most Pro-union President in U.S. History
The Labor Department will be crucial in shaping the administration’s policies on various issues, including combating child labor and introducing an overtime pay rule for workers. Biden clarified that he intends to be the most pro-union president in American history, making the labor secretary position a key role in implementing his policies. Julie Su played a part in resolving a contentious conflict with rail workers who had threatened to go on strike over sick leave, and her experience will prove invaluable in her new position.
On Tuesday, labor movement leaders praised President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su as labor secretary. They cited Su’s extensive experience and track record of advocating for workers’ rights as evidence of her ability to help the Biden administration fulfill its pledge to support labor unions and working people. With Su at the helm, the department is expected to advocate for workers’ rights strongly and will work towards creating a more equitable workplace for all Americans.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, noted that Su had already played a key role in Biden’s efforts to create the most pro-worker administration since Franklin D. Roosevelt. With Su at the helm of the Labor Department, the labor movement can expect a strong advocate for workers’ rights and a staunch supporter of organized labor.
Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the country, praised President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su as labor secretary, calling it a critical decision. Shuler expressed her confidence in Su’s ability to champion the fundamental rights of working people, describing her as the most dedicated and qualified candidate for the job.
The Reaction of Republicans to Su Nomination
Some congressional Republicans doubted President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su as labor secretary. Senator Bill Cassidy, the top GOP on the Senate committee overseeing the Labor Department, cited fraudulent unemployment payments made in California during the pandemic while Su was in charge of the state’s unemployment insurance office. However, the White House defended Su’s actions, with spokeswoman Olivia Dalton stating that Su had worked tirelessly to process urgent claims despite outdated technology and that at the Labor Department, she had collaborated with states to tackle the issue of fraudulent payments on a national level.
Senator Bill Cassidy, another top Republican on the Senate committee overseeing the Labor Department, expressed his concerns regarding Julie Su’s nomination as labor secretary. He stated that Su has a concerning record and is presently supervising the Department of Labor’s development of unfavorable regulations for workers, which could harm the gig economy. Cassidy believes this raises questions about Su’s ability to carry out her current responsibilities, let alone be promoted to labor secretary. Cassidy also criticized the Labor Department’s proposed guidelines that would classify many gig workers as employees, which conservatives believe would diminish workers’ flexibility.
Who is Su?
Julie Su, the nominee for the U.S. Labor Secretary position, is the daughter of immigrants and a graduate of both Stanford University and Harvard Law School. She has had a successful career in civil rights law and received the MacArthur Foundation’s prestigious “genius” grant. She also has 17 years of experience as a civil rights attorney, including defending Thai garment workers trafficked into the United States. Although Senator Bernie Sanders supported flight attendant union president Sara Nelson for the role, he expressed confidence that Su would be an excellent Secretary of Labor. Nelson also welcomed Su’s nomination, calling it “fantastic news for the country.”
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