President Biden on Wednesday called on the Senate to quickly confirm Julie Su as the next labor secretary during a White House ceremony where he officially announced her nomination to replace Marty Walsh.
Ms. Su, who served as California’s labor secretary before joining the administration, served as a key negotiator in averting last year’s nationwide freight rail strike.
“It’s my honor to nominate Julie Su to be our next secretary of labor,” Mr. Biden said. “I ask the United States Senate to move this nomination quickly so we can continue the progress to build this economy that works for everyone.”
Mr. Biden praised Ms. Su’s pro-union bona fides from her tenure in California and under his administration as deputy labor secretary.
He pledged to continue living up to his pledge to “be the most pro-union president in presidential history” with Ms. Su’s leadership as labor secretary.
“The reason I ran was to rebuild the backbone of this nation, the middle class, and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down,” he said.
He added, “We have a shot to do some really good things that are totally consistent with everything about what this country is about. I’m just anxious to finish the job here.”
Mr. Biden announced his intent to nominate Ms. Su as Mr. Walsh’s replacement in a statement on Tuesday.
Mr. Walsh, a former mayor of Boston who has served as labor secretary since the start of the Biden administration, is stepping down to head the National Hockey League Players’ Association. Ms. Su will serve as acting secretary until the Senate takes up her nomination.
Mr. Walsh’s departure adds to the broader staff shake-up as Mr. Biden enters the back half of his first term and gears up for an expected 2024 reelection bid. The White House recently confirmed that Chief of Staff Ron Klain and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese will depart in the coming weeks.
Interest groups in Washington were quick to weigh in on Mr. Biden’s nomination Tuesday, with some raising concerns over her track record for advancing the interests of small business owners.
The International Franchise Association took aim at Ms. Su’s support for legislation in California requiring businesses to reclassify independent contractors as employees and accused her of mismanaging California’s unemployment insurance program which it said became fraught with fraudulent claims under her tenure.
“The franchise community has strong concerns about President Biden’s nomination of Deputy Secretary Julie Su to be the next secretary of labor,” said Michael Layman, the IFA’s senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. “Deputy Secretary Su has been consistently hostile to small businesses throughout her career, and she mismanaged California’s unemployment insurance program as head of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency.”
Others praised her as the nominee, noting her work to advance the administration’s pro-union cause.
“As workers around the country continue to organize and grow their power, they must have a partner in the administration willing to go to bat for them, as outgoing Labor Secretary Walsh admirably did,” said Erica Smiley, executive director of Jobs With Justice. “President Biden could not have picked a better person for the job than Julie Su, a longtime champion and proven fighter for workers who will help everyday Americans grow their power in their workplaces.”
Ms. Su pledged to continue along the path set by Mr. Walsh.
“We have an extraordinary opportunity to build an economy where no one feels invisible, where every individual and community not only gets to benefit from the president’s transformative vision for America, but also gets to help make it real,” Ms. Su said Wednesday. “So let’s build together.”
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