El Dorado News-Times

Biden to nominate Julie Su as next US labor secretary


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is nominating Julie Su, the current deputy and former California official, as his next labor secretary, replacing the departing incumbent, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

Su, a civil rights attorney and former head of California’s labor department, was central to negotiatio­ns between labor and freight rail companies late last year, working to avert an economical­ly debilitati­ng strike. She also has worked to broaden employee training programs and crack down on wage theft.

If confirmed by the Senate, Su would also be the first Asian-American in the Biden administra­tion to serve in the Cabinet at the secretary level.

Biden, in a statement on Tuesday, called her a “champion for workers.”

“Julie 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,” he said. “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.”

Su was considered to lead the department when Biden won the White House but instead became the department’s deputy. Walsh announced his intention to leave the administra­tion earlier this month to lead the National Hockey League Players’ Associatio­n. Su will serve as the acting secretary until the Senate acts on her nomination.

Su, if confirmed, would also expand the majority of women serving in the president’s Cabinet. She was confirmed by the Senate to her current role in 2021 by a 50—47 vote.

Su’s nomination drew swift support from Democrats on Capitol Hill, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying she would be “phenomenal” in the job.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who will preside over Su’s confirmati­on hearing as chair of the Senate health, education, labor and pensions committee, praised the selection. Sanders had urged considerat­ion of Sara Nelson, the president of the flight attendants union, but made clear Su had his strong support.

“I’m confident Julie Su will be an excellent Secretary of Labor,” he tweeted. “I look forward to working with her to protect workers’ rights and build the trade union movement in this country.”

Her nomination also comes at a key moment for labor unions, which have been facing a decline in membership for decades. Unions gained some momentum as workers at major employers such as Amazon and Starbucks pushed to unionize. But Biden — an avowed pro-union president — had to work with Congress to impose a contract on rail workers last year to avoid a possible strike.

The Labor Department said just 10.1% of workers last year were union members. That figure has been cut nearly in half since 1983 and could fall further, as younger workers are less likely to belong to unions.

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