Following Marty Walsh's departure from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, President Biden nominated Julie Su, Walsh's second in command, to lead the agency. As Walsh's deputy and current acting labor secretary, Su has been at the center of the Biden administration's efforts to remake the U.S. economy from the bottom up and middle out—working side-by-side with Walsh to implement critical Democratic victories, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. She has also helped to revitalize federal-state-local partnerships to strengthen workforce development programs and reinvigorated labor standards enforcement to protect the most vulnerable workers, including expanded mine safety and OSHA enforcement programs.
"If you’ve been paying attention the past 18 months, you know workers across America are having a moment," writes Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO. "Julie Su will help workers at the highest levels of power, too—the same way 90 years ago, the country’s first female labor secretary, Francis Perkins, did pioneering work under Franklin Delano Roosevelt to define the New Deal."
A proven fighter for American workers, Su is the most qualified and prepared candidate for the role. And as Labor secretary, she would continue building an economy that works for all, not just the wealthy few.
Sign and send a petition to the Senate: Confirm Julie Su as Labor secretary.
Su has an unparalleled track record of fighting on behalf of workers. She is a nationally recognized labor expert, speaks Mandarin and Spanish in addition to English, and spent 17 years as a civil rights attorney representing workers. She previously served as California’s state labor secretary, overseeing the largest state labor department in the country and leading an agency that serves more than 17 million workers.
Su has been a notable force for working people since the earliest days of her career. In 1995, Su was a young, first-generation attorney working for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles (formerly the Asian Pacific American Legal Center) when federal authorities raided a garment sweatshop in El Monte, California. Seventy-two Thai workers, almost all women, had been forced to work 18-hour days in a small room with boarded-up windows, earning an unconscionable 2 cents per pocket. The people who ran the shop were convicted for indentured servitude and other crimes, but there was more work to be done.
Su led the team that won a landmark judgment against the clothing companies that benefited from the workers’ labor. Not only did they secure more than $4 million in back wages, but Su's team also helped the workers get visas to remain in the United States and aided many in finding fair jobs. That case became the foundation for a number of state and federal labor laws regarding human trafficking and forced labor.
Su reflected on the case when she joined the Dept. of Labor as deputy secretary, saying that the "biggest changes would not be measured in dollars or policy changes. The most profound changes were personal: the workers stood up, learned they had power, and, against all odds, defied the message they had heard their whole lives—that they should keep their heads down and know their place. These are the changes that shaped me as a young lawyer and that continue to inspire me to fight for workers today."
She didn't stop there. Throughout her career, Su has fought to ensure a just day’s pay in every workplace and promoted economic justice through robust enforcement of labor laws. Her commitment to delivering for working people and tenacious drive for justice earned her the moniker "Wage Theft's Top Cop."
Su, the daughter of Chinese immigrants who traveled to the U.S. on a cargo ship because they couldn't afford a passenger ticket, credits her family’s experience for her commitment to labor laws rooted in fairness, justice, and equity. Her parents built a small business and worked union jobs to make ends meet. And in a tale that Aaron Sorkin wishes he could write, they raised a child who became a leading worker’s advocate and civil rights leader. She represents the best this country has to offer.
With American workers reimagining labor in real-time, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build an economy where no one feels invisible, and where every individual and community benefits. Su will hit the ground running, continuing her storied legacy of delivering for working people. Tell the Senate to confirm her swiftly.
Sign and send: Julie Su should be the next Labor secretary.