This week, President Biden announced that he has nominated Julie Su, current secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor. The White House press release stated that Su will help the presumptive Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in the effort to advance President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda and address the “worst job crisis in nearly a century.”
Su’s qualifications were discussed at length. According to the press release, Su graduated from Stanford University then Harvard Law and began her career as Litigation Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles. While practicing as a civil rights lawyer for 17 years, she was the recipient of a Genius Grant and was involved with landmark lawsuits resulting in policy changes in California and the US to protect immigrant victims of crime and human trafficking. She served as a California Labor Commissioner from 2011 to 2018. The press release quoted an unnamed 2013 report that found “her leadership has resulted in a renaissance in enforcement activity and record-setting results.” In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Su to Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency where she oversees the CA agencies charged with wage enforcement, occupational safety and health, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation and job training.
Some articles show there are many who do not support Su’s nomination. Citing the failures of the Employment Development Department (EDD) under Su’s leadership, some critics point to California’s backlogged unemployment requests and $11 billion in fraudulent claims that have been traced to CA prisons. According to multiple sources, unemployment that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 overwhelmed the antiquated EDD system which Su inherited in 2019. Other articles report glowing support for Su’s nomination and refute claims that the CA EDD failures should overshadow her otherwise stellar career.
A confirmation hearing in the Senate is pending.