Padilla Urges Colleagues to Confirm Julie Su as Labor Secretary

WATCH: Senator Padilla delivers floor speech in support of Acting Secretary Julie Su’s confirmation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) spoke on the Senate floor in support of the confirmation of Julie Su to become the next U.S. Labor Secretary. In his remarks, Padilla highlighted the critical role Su played in the creation of a record-breaking number of jobs as well as her proven record of protecting the rights and dignity of workers.

“As a highly effective Deputy Secretary of Labor, and now Acting Secretary, Julie has played a critical role in helping the administration add 12.6 million jobs to the American economy since President Biden took office,” said Senator Padilla. “That’s more job gains than any previous president achieved in a four-year term. And it’s further proof that job creation and labor protections are not mutually exclusive—they go hand in hand in building a strong, resilient economy. I urge my colleagues to join me in confirming her nomination.”

Julie Su currently serves as the Acting Secretary of Labor, and has been the Deputy Secretary of Labor since her July 2021 confirmation when she received unanimous support from Senate Democrats. As Deputy Secretary, Su 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.

Padilla’s full remarks, as delivered, are below:

Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Labor, current Acting Secretary Julie Su.

Julie is a proud Californian and a champion for workers everywhere.

She’s a tireless advocate for workers—she was a tireless advocate for workers in California for years—and I was honored to introduce her before the HELP committee two years ago when she was first nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor.

And I should note that that year, I was also proud to see every single Democratic Senator vote to confirm her nomination.

And in the time since, I think it’s appropriate to ask, in the time since what’s happened?

I’ll tell you what’s happened: she’s gained even more experience defending workers nationwide and managing a federal department.

She’s been a highly effective Deputy Secretary of Labor, now Acting Secretary, and she’s played a critical role in helping the administration add 12.6 million jobs to the American economy.

That’s more job gains than any previous president has achieved in a four-year term.

And it’s further proof that job creation and strong labor protections are not mutually exclusive, in fact they go hand in hand in building a strong, resilient economy.

But Julie’s service and track record come as no surprise, frankly, when you understand where she came from.

She is a daughter of immigrants and a native of California, she knows personally the sacrifices that many working families make to make ends meet.

Her parents worked hard for decades in minimum wage jobs before establishing and growing their own small business. So yes, colleagues, Julie Su and her family have seen both sides of a paycheck.

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

I also have to note, as the Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency for then the fifth-largest economy in the world—now the fourth-largest economy in the world—she was a strong manager, leading a number of major departments, boards, and panels at the state level.

Her experience and qualifications are unmatched, and as former Secretary Walsh put it, Julie “is a lifelong champion of America’s workers.”

And I’ll end with this, Mr. President, if confirmed she would be the first Asian American to serve as a secretary in President Biden’s cabinet, millions of Americans will see themselves represented in the highest levels of American government—and take pride in her story as the daughter of working-class immigrants.

I was proud to see her impressive recent testimony in the HELP committee when I introduced her once again, and where she was successfully voted out from committee, and she’s exactly the type of labor champion that we need at this critical time.

I urge my colleagues to join me in once again confirming her nomination.

Thank you, Mr. President.


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