Erstwhile California labor secretary and Employment Development Department chief Julie Su will face a bumpy road in her quest to become the nation’s next Secretary of Labor.
President Biden nominated Su at the end of February when former Secretary Marty Walsh left to become head of the NHL player’s union. Su had been serving as Walsh’s deputy, squeaking through – 50 to 47 on a strict party line vote – her Senate confirmation to that position in July of 2021.
While she is acting Secretary now, her formal confirmation process is expected to begin in April, Senate sources say.
Though her Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP…seriously?) committee hearing is about a month away, the ranking Republican on the committee, Bill Cassidy, is planning to take to the Senate floor Monday to lambast Su’s nomination. In the past, Cassidy has called Su’s record “troubling” due to her mishandling of EDD funds leading to a loss to fraud of about $40 billion during the pandemic and her staunch support of the anti-freelancer California law and the current attempt to enact something similar – the potentially devastating PRO Act at the federal level.
Su, said Cassidy, “is currently overseeing the Department of Labor’s development of anti-worker regulations that will dismantle the gig economy. This does not inspire confidence in her ability to hold her current position, let alone be promoted.”
In announcing her nomination the Biden administration emphasized the fact that she would be the first Asian-American in his cabinet and dismissed concerns about her gross negligence running the EDD.
On her watch, Su failed to install any security systems to the EDD’s payment systems, resulting in a $40 billion dollar loss. Not only has no one – apparently – been fired for this disaster, Su could be failing up in plain sight even as the state still owes the feds about $19 billion and has raised taxes on California businesses to pay for its incompetence.
But Su’s hard left progressive ideology could also spook moderate Democrats like Sens. Kelly (AZ) and Manchin (WV). Both voted for Su for the deputy position but they, along with Arizona’s other senator, Kyrsten Sinema, and others, could balk at the idea of giving her the top job permanently.
Su, said Capital Research Center’s Michael Watson, is heavily invested in “social justice unionism.”
“She may be labor centered, but she is ideologically driven,” said Watson, the Center’s research director.
Watson said Su is quite typical of the relatively recent development of “social justice unionism,” which he defines as “organized labor (not being) a fully independent actor pursuing the material interests of its membership or even the working class at large. Instead, it is a cog in a political and cultural machine that works towards a full-spectrum left-wing agenda, including on issues far outside what might be considered organized labor’s “economic core.”
This differs from previous union agendas in that it goes far far beyond representing its member financial and workplace conditions needs and delves into unrelated social and political issues. Los Angeles’ teacher’s union – the UTLA – boycott of Israel, for example, is a manifestation of this concept.
Another example of politically-motivated “equity” union drives is the “cadre training” offered by the California Teachers Association.
The final vote – which could take place before the summer – is expected to be razor-thin and no Republicans (unlike with the Eric Garcetti ambassadorial confirmation) are expected to back Su.
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