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California Secretary of Labor Julie Su. (Photo: CA.Gov)

President Biden Nominates Former CA Secretary of Labor Julie Su As Next Labor Secretary

Su lifted the unemployment eligibility requirements during the early months of the pandemic leading to billions stolen from the state

By Evan Symon, February 28, 2023 12:30 pm

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that Deputy Secretary of Labor and former California Secretary of Labor Julie Su is to become the next U.S. Labor Secretary next month following the resignation of current Labor Department head Marty Walsh.

Su, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, began her career in California as a lawyer at the Asian-Pacific American Legal Center in the 1990s. She soon became the Litigation Director for Advancing Justice L.A. where, in 1995, she had a career legal case as the lead attorney in the El Monte Thai Garment Slavery Case, the first case involving slavery in the United States since the 1860s. Following El Monte, Su became one of the most prominent labor lawyers in the state and eventually parlayed that into governmental work. In 2012, then-Governor Jerry Brown appointed her as the head of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). This was followed up seven years later with Governor Gavin Newsom selecting her as his Labor Secretary in Sacramento.

In the next few years, Su proceeded to have one of the most controversial stints as Labor Secretary in California history.  While she proved to have a strong commitment to labor rights, pushed for higher wages for workers, and supported immigrant worker protections, she also proved to have many faults, especially once the COVID-19 pandemic started to shut down the state in early 2020. In particular, mismanagement issues, such as helping allow the $31 billion unemployment fraud in the California EDD to occur under her watch, suspending EDD claimant eligibility requirements, and her support for the controversial AB 5 employee reclassification law, which cost many Californians jobs at a time when they needed them most, brought many Californians to oppose her tenure in office. At one point, she was so controversial that a full page ad against her appeared in the Wall Street Journal and was widely touted as ‘failing upwards’.

Despite this, Su was nominated as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor in late 2020 following President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election, being selected as one of many Californians in the higher echelons of the Biden administration. However, her issues as the California Labor Secretary popped up during her confirmation process, dragging it all the way into July 2021 – well after the rest of Biden’s cabinet had been confirmed. Finally, after months of back and forth in Washington, the Senate barely approved her as the Deputy Secretary in a 50-47 decision.

A controversial pick for Labor secretary

Serving under Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Su had a relatively uneventful two years and barely left Washington, only to be thrust back into the spotlight this month. In early February, Secretary Walsh announced that he would be stepping down to head the National Hockey League Player’s Association (NHLPA), the labor union of hockey players in the NHL. Su’s controversial tenure in California came up once again during discussions on whether or not to promote her to Secretary. While Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union leader Sara Nelson were considered, President Biden ultimately chose Su for the nomination on Tuesday.

“It is my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our country’s next Secretary of Labor,” President Biden said in a statement Tuesday. “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. Over several decades, 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.”

“Su is a tested and experienced leader, who will continue to build a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy that provides Americans a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead. I look forward to continuing to work with Julie to build an economy that works for working people, and I respectfully ask the Senate to take up this nomination quickly so that we can finish the job for America’s workers.”

Reaction to the nomination was mixed on Tuesday. While many labor leaders approved of Su due to her early legal history and her recent time as Deputy Secretary, others expressed disapproval due to her time as the Labor Secretary in California.

“The Biden administration is straight up ignoring her incompetent decisions, like getting rid of all the unemployment eligibility requirements during the early months of the pandemic which led to criminals stealing billions from the state,” explained labor attorney Tess Gutierrez to the Globe on Tuesday. “You know, we understand that there was a pandemic and that people needed help fast, but the way she approved it and allowed it all to happen was incredibly thoughtless and rash. And that’s not even getting into some of her other decisions that hurt businesses across the state. She didn’t balance employees with employers. And now look. She is about to head the U.S. Labor Department.”

Su is expected to go through the confirmation process next month, following Walsh formally stepping down in mid-March.

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Evan Symon
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5 thoughts on “President Biden Nominates Former CA Secretary of Labor Julie Su As Next Labor Secretary

  1. Ugh! Katy Grimes summed it up perfectly: Julie Su is just what the Biden administration is looking for – more incompetence and fraud.

  2. Failure to create more failure. She fits right in with the other idiots in Poopy Pants’s cabinet! What could possibly go wrong here? Lets go Brandon!

    1. John, it’s as though the WORST candidate imaginable was picked for whatever cabinet post. It looks like they are purposely striving for failure.

      1. Exactly! With the exception of Garland who is just out to get Trump and conservatives. He is doing a helluva job there.

  3. Ah yes, failing upwards. That’s just how the government works. Always promote the most incompetent person you can.

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