Washington — President Biden is nominating Julie Su, the current deputy and a former California official, as his next labor secretary, replacing the departing incumbent, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
Su, a civil rights attorney and former head of California's labor department, was central to negotiations between labor and freight rail companies late last year, working to avert an economically debilitating strike. She also has worked to broaden worker training programs and crack down on wage theft. If confirmed by the Senate, Su would also be the first Asian-American in the Biden administration to serve in the Cabinet at the secretary level.
Mr. Biden, in a statement, called her a "champion for workers."
"Julie is a tested and experienced leader, who will continue to build a stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive economy that provides Americans a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead," he said. "She helped avert a national rail shutdown, improved access to good jobs free from discrimination through my Good Jobs Initiative, and is ensuring that the jobs we create in critical sectors like semiconductor manufacturing, broadband and healthcare are good-paying, stable and accessible jobs for all."
Su was considered to lead the department when Mr. Biden won the White House but instead became the department's deputy. Walsh announced his intention to leave the administration earlier this month to lead the National Hockey League Players' Association. Su will serve as the acting secretary until the Senate acts on her nomination.
Mr. Biden had been under pressure from the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) advocates to select Su to head the department. This administration was the first in more than two decades to not have a Cabinet secretary of AAPI descent, despite its regular declarations that it was the most diverse in history. Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai are of AAPI descent but don't lead a Cabinet department.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat of Hawaii, said she was "delighted" by the selection.
"I've been supporting Julie for that position since before since the very beginning," she told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I was very much supporting her, and it looks like it's going to happen, so I'm delighted."
Su, if confirmed, would also expand the majority of women serving in the president's Cabinet. She was confirmed by the Senate to her current role in 2021 by a 50–47 vote.
Alan He contributed reporting.