Julie Su, deputy to U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, was nominated Feb. 28 by President Biden to be Walsh’s successor.
Su is a former California Labor Secretary who served under Governor Gavin Newsom. She also headed the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency.
She helped oversee the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) along with Walsh, who is planning to leave his position sometime in March.
Walsh and Su together have “made strong overtures to organized labor and to workers, both by communicating support for workers who are striking or seeking to unionize and through a series of regulatory, enforcement and legislative actions,” according to The New York Times.
Like Walsh, Su is popular with labor unions and workers.
Walsh: She is a lifelong champion of America’s workers
On March 1, Walsh issued a statement on Su’s nomination.
“As Deputy Secretary, Julie’s achievements – prioritizing rights and protections for the most vulnerable workers; driving our equity work; attracting diverse, world-class talent into public service; modernizing workforce development and unemployment insurance systems; and deepening our engagement with state and local governments – have been broad and deep,” Walsh said.
Walsh continued, pointing to Su as “a lifelong champion of America’s workers” whose abilities he is confident will allow her to “sustain the work of the department and advance the President’s vision of an economy that puts workers first and leaves no one behind.”
Known as ‘an innovative regulator’ in California
Su, whose parents were immigrants, speaks Mandarin and before entering government work was known for her work in the 1990s on behalf of a group of Thai seamstresses who’d been forced to work in a California sweatshop until they were freed by law enforcement.
She helped the seamstresses win compensation from the companies that used the sweatshop as a supplier.
Under Su’s leadership, the California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency won praise from worker groups for quickly establishing rules to protect workers from COVID-19 hazards. The agency was also accused of paying out billions of dollars in fraudulent unemployment claims, which Su acknowledged did occur.
As California’s labor commissioner under Governor Newsom, Su “was known as an innovative regulator, reorienting the agency so that it relied on worker complaints as the basis for investigations rather than random inspections of workplaces,” The New York Times states.