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If confirmed by the Senate, Su, who is currently deputy labor secretary, would succeed Marty Walsh, who will be departing to run the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the union for the league’s players.
Su, 54, would become the only Asian American in Biden’s Cabinet, fulfilling a call by some Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), for Biden to have an Asian American in his Cabinet. Katherine Tai, who is Asian American, is the U.S. trade representative, which is Cabinet-level but not a Cabinet position per se.
In a statement, Biden touted Su’s credentials.
“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.
“Julie is a champion for workers, and she has been a critical partner to Secretary Walsh since the early days of my Administration. She helped avert a national rail shutdown, improved access to good jobs free from discrimination through my Good Jobs Initiative, and is ensuring that the jobs we create in critical sectors like semiconductor manufacturing, broadband and healthcare are good-paying, stable and accessible jobs for all.”
Prior to becoming deputy labor secretary in 2021, Su led the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
Su is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She is an alum of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
Democrats expressed support for the nomination.
“Julie Su is the right choice to lead the Labor Department. I look forward to her speedy confirmation so she can continue to work on growing and strengthening America’s workforce,” posted Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Twitter.
“I have no doubt that Julie Su will make an excellent Labor secretary and I look forward to confirming her. This will be a huge victory for America’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities and working families. Su is a fierce champion for unions and who we need leading @USDOL,” posted Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with the Democrats and is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP), which will hear Su’s nomination, applauded the move.
“I’m confident Julie Su will be an excellent Secretary of Labor. I look forward to working with her to protect workers’ rights and build the trade union movement in this country,” he posted on Twitter.
Opposition to Su’s nomination has also begun.
HELP Ranking Member Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said in a statement that Su has “a troubling record and is 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.”
Su’s nomination could be contentious as she was confirmed 50-47 as the number two at the Labor Department.
By Jackson Richman