Padilla Introduces U.S. Labor Secretary Nominee Julie Su at Confirmation Hearing, Urges Colleagues to Support Her Nomination

WATCH: Full video of Padilla’s remarks available here

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su at her confirmation hearing to become the next U.S. Labor Secretary before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Padilla highlighted her proven record of protecting the rights and dignity of workers and urged members of the committee to support her nomination.

“Julie Su is a strong champion for workers everywhere. After years of exemplary public service to California and the nation, she is more than qualified to lead the Department of Labor,” said Senator Padilla. “As Deputy Secretary of Labor, and now Acting Secretary, Su has helped the Administration add a record 12.6 million jobs to the American economy since President Biden took office. I’m confident that her service will fundamentally strengthen American labor in the years ahead and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting her nomination.”

Julie Su currently serves as the Acting Secretary of Labor, and was the Deputy Secretary of Labor since her July 2021 Senate confirmation. As Deputy Secretary, Su has worked side-by-side with former Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to advance President Biden’s vision of a strong, resilient, and inclusive economy with worker well-being at its center.

Previously, Su was the Labor Secretary for the State of California where she worked closely with unions and employers to build effective partnerships to connect people—often those left out of prosperity—to good, union jobs. Su began her life in government service as the California Labor Commissioner where she launched the “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign with the support of both labor and management. Su spent 17 years as a civil rights attorney representing workers who are often invisible, including 72 Thai garment workers who were trafficked into the US and forced to work behind barbed wire and under armed guard. Her work earned her a MacArthur “genius” award.

Su is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. She is the daughter of immigrants, speaks Mandarin and Spanish, and she has two daughters.

A full transcript of Padilla’s remarks as delivered are available below:

Thank you, Mr. Chair and Ranking Member Cassidy, for allowing me to introduce Acting Secretary of Labor, Julie Su. Julie’s a proud Californian and as you will continue to hear, a champion for workers everywhere. Julie is indeed a tireless advocate for—was a tireless advocate for—workers in California for years, so much so that two months after I joined this Senate in early 2021, I had the honor of introducing her to this very committee, when President Biden nominated her to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor.

And in the time since her first confirmation, she’s proven to be a highly effective Deputy Secretary of Labor, and now Acting Secretary, helping this administration add more than 12 and a half million jobs to the American economy—that’s since President Biden’s first day in office. That’s more job gains than any previous President in a four-year term. And that’s no exaggeration. And during that time, Julie has also been a relentless defender of the rights and dignity of workers. Job creation and labor protection are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they go hand in hand in a strong, responsible economy. But you see, her service and her track record comes as no surprise once you understand where she’s come from. She’s a proud daughter of immigrants and a native of California. And she knows personally the sacrifices that many working families face just to make ends meet.

Her parents worked hard for decades, in minimum wage jobs, before establishing and growing their own small business. So, they’ve seen both sides of a paycheck.

They instilled in Julie a strong work ethic that led her to take on tough fights for workers, as a labor lawyer, as labor secretary for the state of California, and as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor.

During her time as Secretary of Labor, California, she launched the first “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign, so that both employers, yes employers, as well as low wage workers better understood their rights and responsibilities. And as the Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency for the then fifth largest economy in the world now, the fourth largest economy in the world, she managed seven major departments, boards, and panels to promote quality jobs, provide workforce training, and strengthen the state’s economy. Did I mention California is now the fourth largest economy in the world.

On a personal note, it was a privilege for me to work alongside Julie when she led the campaign in California to help low wage workers understand their rights and feel protected, when speaking up about labor abuses. That’s critically important and timely.

Colleagues, I know that many of you have expressed concern about recent reports about child labor violations in America, particularly migrant children being exploited in the workplace. Several senators, including many Republican senators, just the other day expressed their dismay in his HSGAC, calling on the federal government to do its part on cracking down on these labor violations and holding people accountable.

If we’re genuine and sincere about our dismay, about the reported child labor violations, then you need to agree that we need Julie Su confirmed as soon as possible. Her experience and qualifications are unmatched and I’m confident that her service will fundamentally strengthen the American workforce in the years ahead. Confirming Acting Secretary Su to serve as the chief defender of workers and workers’ rights in the biggest economy in the world will send a strong and important message that in America, workers are valued, workers come first. And as former Secretary Walsh put it, Julie is a lifelong champion of America’s workers. And if confirmed as the first Asian American to serve as Secretary in President Biden’s cabinet, millions of Americans will see themselves represented in the highest levels of our government. And we’ll take pride in her story as a daughter of working-class immigrants.

So yes, Julie is exactly the pioneering labor champion that workers deserve to lead the Department of Labor now and I’m thankful that President Biden has chosen to nominate her for this position. Colleagues, I urge you to join me in supporting her nomination. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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