Biden nominates deputy labor secretary to lead department


Shawn T. Moore | U.S. Department of Labor

Vincent Perretti

President Joe Biden nominated Julie Su to lead the U.S. Department of Labor on Feb. 28, after incumbent Marty Walsh announced he will resign.

“Julie is a champion for workers, and she has been a critical partner to Secretary Walsh since the early days of my Administration,” Biden said in a statement. “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.”

A graduate from Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Su held numerous leadership positions in the last decade. She notably served as the labor commissioner of California starting in 2011 and became the secretary for the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency in 2019.

Su currently works in the U.S. Department of Labor as its deputy secretary, a role she has held since 2021.

“To my team, who’s here and across the country, especially the career staff who have devoted your lives to the mission of the DOL: You are the heart and soul of the department, and I’m thrilled to continue our good work together,” Su said in a press conference alongside Biden at the White House.

Su worked alongside outgoing Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. He tweeted that he will leave his position in mid-March. He was offered the role of executive director for the National Hockey League Players’ Association, according to a press release from the union.

Subsequently, after Walsh announced his resignation, people jumped onto the notion of Su being a top candidate.

The Associated Press reported that Biden was under pressure from Asian American advocacy groups to select Su as the next department head alongside key Democratic Party figures who supported this nomination.

In her career, Su has advocated for workers and unions. She negotiated partnerships between unions and employers to connect people with good-paying jobs, spearheaded California’s “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign, advocated against the unequal treatment of garment workers and used her profession as a civil rights attorney to represent unfairly treated workers of all professions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Congressional Republicans urged Biden to reconsider his decision to nominate Su. They foresee her having a detrimental effect on the economy.

“Deputy Secretary Su has a troubling record and is currently overseeing the Department of Labor’s development of anti-worker regulations that will dismantle the gig economy,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican on the Senate’s labor committee, said in a statement reported by Bloomberg News. “This does not inspire confidence in her ability to hold her current position, let alone be promoted.”

Despite the differences in opinions, if Su is officially appointed to lead the agency, she will be tasked with promoting and improving the current labor market while upholding the Biden administration’s view of the economy to create an inclusive economy for citizens.

Additionally, Su will be tasked with abiding by the department’s fundamental mission “to foster, promote and develop the welfare of wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States.”

Current economic conditions have caused the labor market to slow down drastically over the last two years. But, the market has begun to stagnate.

The unemployment rate and the number of unemployed people showed little change in January and have demonstrated relatively low shifts in movement, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s  “Employment Situation” report for the month.

With widespread support for her nomination by advocacy groups, there is a high chance Su will be voted in by the Senate to take the role by the end of March.

“To all workers who are toiling in the shadows, to workers who are organizing for power and respect in the workplace, know that we see you,” Su said in a press conference. “We stand with you, and we will fight for you.”