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April 2023

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Julie Su: A Workers' Champion for Labor Secretary

In late February, President Joe Biden nominated Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su to replace outgoing Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.

Her long track record on behalf of working people is one that fills me with confidence for the job she's going to do leading the Labor Department, and that's why the IBEW is proud to support her nomination.

Picture this: Workers in permanent debt to their employer, only able to buy basic supplies from the company store. The day begins at sunrise, and workers are bent over sewing machines until far into the night, watched by guards like it's a prison.

It wasn't that long ago. This happened in 1995.

Su got her start as a lawyer in California going after these modern-day slavers in the "fast fashion" industry who condemned nearly 80 men and women to this life in El Monte, Calif.

She used a federal law that had been written to go after drug traffickers to find safety for the freed workers.

Su also went after the companies that used this contractor. Her lawsuit laid the groundwork for state and national anti-sweatshop legislation.

If Su is approved by the Senate, it will be yet another demonstration of why I call this the most labor-friendly presidency ever.

As California labor commissioner, Su created and then used innovative tools to recover millions of dollars in stolen wages for working Californians.

Su would replace Biden's first labor secretary, Marty Walsh, former mayor and head of the Boston Building Trades and a lifelong union member who is leaving to run another union, the NHL Players' Association.

Together, Walsh and Su oversaw a dramatic turnaround in the Department of Labor, which for four years attacked protections for workers under President Donald Trump.

Walsh led the Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment that issued a report with 70 recommendations to promote worker power through organized labor. He modernized the prevailing-wage laws, reinstated the National Apprenticeship Advisory Committee and finally put a stake through the heart of the deceptively named Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Programs, which would have converted many apprenticeships into little more than internships.

Like Walsh, Su understands that the role of government is to protect people and to promote the democratic right to organize a workplace.

She has our full support, and we encourage the Senate to act quickly in confirming her to her new role.


Also: Cooper: Bringing Chip Plants Back Home Read Cooper's Column

Paul A. Noble

Paul A. Noble
International Secretary-Treasurer