The White House has announced that President Biden intends to nominate Julie Su to serve as Secretary of Labor, replacing Marty Walsh who recently announced his intention to step down to take a position with the NHL Players Association.
Su has been serving as Deputy Labor Secretary—the No. 2 post at the department—since her confirmation in July 2021.
“It is my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our country’s next Secretary of Labor,” President Biden said in a statement. “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.”
Following Walsh’s planned departure in mid-March, Su will take over as Acting Secretary. After she is formally nominated, Su will again go through the vetting process, including appearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a hearing before being consider by the full U.S. Senate.
The confirmation of Su may not be that easy, however, given the narrow 51-49 split in the Senate and that her confirmation as Deputy Secretary was approved on a party-line vote after being delayed for several months.
Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Su served as Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, where she oversaw the state’s departments and boards that enforce labor laws and employment programs. During her confirmation hearing, she came under fire for billions of dollars in unemployment compensation fraud that happened during her time as head of California’s labor department. Su had argued at the time that the unemployment system was attacked by a criminal enterprise that cost every state, and that she would use her experience to battle that fraud at the federal level.
Su is widely supported by unions and worker-advocacy groups, but has also previously come under fire from business groups for her support of a 2019 state law making it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors.
Prior to her appointment as California Labor Commissioner, Su was the Litigation Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles, a non-profit civil rights organization devoted to issues affecting the Asian American community. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, she has also taught at UCLA Law School and Northeastern Law School.