Julie Su Nominated for Deputy Secretary of Labor

President Biden nominated Julie Su, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, to serve as the deputy secretary of labor, the second-highest-ranking position in the Department of Labor.

If confirmed, Su will work directly with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, tapped to head the DOL.

Portfolio of Progressive Workplace Policies

Su, a daughter of immigrant parents, boasts an impressive 25-year career spanning non-profit and government roles. She developed a reputation early in her career as a stark advocate for workplace justice when she defended and helped free 72 enslaved Thai garment workers from a sweat shop in Los Angeles.

Since then, she has used her positions first as a Labor Commissioner in the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (2011-2018) and most recently as the head of California’s LWDA to educate workers about their rights and oversee matters related to compensation, occupational health and safety, and job training. Unions and worker advocacy groups jointly praise her approach and are enthusiastic about her possible confirmation.

Representative Judy Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, summed up her legacy, stating:

“From her time as a workers’ attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice through her current role as California Labor Secretary, Julie has fought for workers from all different unions and of all different backgrounds. But she has been particularly involved in serving the under-served, those earning the least and being exploited the most.”

Path to Confirmation

GOP senators have criticized Su’s role in the California LWDA’s mishandling of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic. It is unclear whether they plan to try to block her confirmation entirely, however, we can expect Su will face sharper questioning than Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

By Susanna Vogel, Associate Consultant

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