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Civil rights attorney Julie Su was recently confirmed as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.
New position: The Senate voted 50-47 to approve her as the second-in-command of the department on July 13, reported Bloomberg Law.
Her job duties will include overseeing efforts to “rebuild and empower” the Labor Department workers, manage the department’s budgets and execute the priorities of the Secretary of Labor.
She will be serving as the department’s de-facto Chief Operating Officer, according to a DOL spokesperson.
“Julie has been fighting for workers’ rights from California for nearly three decades. And now, as Deputy Secretary of Labor, she will help our country build a more inclusive economy that works for all Americans as we recover from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Job History: Su previously worked as the Litigation Director in Los Angeles for Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) for over 15 years.
She was the leading litigator on landmark civil and workers’ rights cases.
Her most “notable” case was the Thai Garment Workers Case. She led the team that filed a lawsuit in support of 102 Thai garment works who were exploited and enslaved by sweatshop owners.
Her leadership led to the expansion of workers’ rights not only in California but throughout the nation. The case ended in over $4 million settlements from several manufacturers and private label retailers.
AAJC commended Biden for bringing on an AAPI representative into his administration and urged him to continue being inclusive.
How she works: Though she has a reputation for “prioritizing vulnerable workers," Su's appointment raises questions about how much power she will have regarding the president’s workplace policy agenda.
As Su is considered a “forceful and innovative enforcer of workers’ rights," progressives hope to see her "assume an outsized role in framing actions to protect marginalized workers and promote racial and gender equity."
Concerns about how she will work alongside Labor Secretary Marty Walsh have also been raised, but people believe the two could complement each other.
“Walsh is a politician, and apparently has a very good relationship with Biden and the White House; and Julie Su, from what I know about her, is much more a policy-type person,” said Jordan Barab, who was deputy head of the DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for much of the Obama administration.
Featured Image via California Humanities
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