California’s Julie Su wants reaffirmation from the Secretary of Labor

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

California’s Julie Su wants reaffirmation from the Secretary of Labor

Immigration and the border

Andrea Castillo

February 27, 2024

The Senate Labor Committee will vote again Tuesday on whether to advance Julie Su’s nomination to head the Labor Department, although it is unclear whether anything has changed since her bid for the job languished last year amid fierce opposition from the Senate. Republican Party and a handful of Democratic holdouts.

Su, formerly California’s labor chief, was nominated by President Biden a year ago and has served as acting secretary since March. Three undecided Democrats plus Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) held off a full Senate confirmation, which would require near-unanimous support from Senate Democrats to pass.

Without a final vote, Su’s nomination was sent back to the White House late last year.

Republicans have described Su’s policies as pro-union and anti-business. They particularly objected to Assembly Bill 5, the California law that requires companies to classify most workers as employees rather than independent contractors. Su did not draft the bill, but provided technical assistance at the end of the process.

Democrats say she is highly qualified for the job and has made groundbreaking progress in protecting workers’ rights. They say Su, a progressive Californian, has become entangled in political divisions in Washington.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee initially voted to appoint Su as labor minister in April.


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), the panel’s chairman, said he strongly supports Su’s reappointment.

She has been an excellent Deputy Secretary of Labor, an excellent Acting Secretary of Labor, and I believe she will make an excellent Secretary of Labor,” Sanders wrote in a statement. Families across the country are showing without a doubt that she is the right person for the job. I urge my colleagues to support her nomination.


This month, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a ranking committee member, urged Sanders to hold a new nomination hearing before scheduling a new vote.

Cassidy objected to what he called her


“troubling record” as acting Secretary of Labor, including the department’s final rule establishing guidelines for classifying workers as employees or independent contractors; a proposed rule to expand overtime eligibility; and a proposed rule allowing union leaders to participate in workplace inspections.

“It has been almost a year since Ms. Su’s hearing. It is important that we investigate the many issues that have arisen since then and get an explanation for those serious concerns,” Cassidy said during a speech in the Senate on Monday evening, criticizing Sanders’ statements. decides not to hold another public hearing. “No one is above responsibility, especially an unconfirmed but acting Cabinet-level candidate with enormous influence over our country’s economy.”

A backlog of cases at the Labor Department last year caused frustrating months-long delays for employers and immigrants seeking H-2B visas for seasonal nonfarm jobs. Cassidy blamed Su for mismanaging the agency.

He also pointed to New York Times reporting that federal officials repeatedly ignored warnings that migrant children were increasingly working in slaughterhouses, factories and on rooftops in violation of child labor laws.

The Ministry of Labor responded that its inspectors had found thousands of violations, and Su said the government was “leaving no stone unturned to eradicate exploitative child labor.”

The Labor Ministry’s independent watchdog launched an audit in August into how officials responded to the rise in child labor violations.

After Biden took office, the Senate voted along party lines

after Biden took office

to confirm Su as deputy labor minister. Previously, she led California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement for seven years.

In 2021, the California Employment Development Department reported $20 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims. Su’s supporters said she inherited many problems when she took over the department, noting that labor fraud increased nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Once Su’s nomination passes out of committee, her supporters could resume their efforts to convince Democratic backbenchers to take her confirmation to the Senate for a full vote.


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