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AFSCME members strongly support Julie Su for U.S. labor secretary

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AFSCME members strongly support Julie Su for U.S. labor secretary
By Pete Levine ·

AFSCME members strongly urge Congress to confirm Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su to the post permanently given her long history of fighting for vulnerable workers and her leadership over the past two years as deputy secretary of labor. 

In her Thursday confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Su described the struggles and successes her parents experienced as immigrants from China.   

“When I was 6 years old, my mom got a job for Los Angeles County as an office clerk. This job gave our family two crucial things: financial security and health insurance. It also afforded my mother a pension, which guarantees my mother and father’s financial security into their old age,” Su recalled. 

“This level of economic security was impossible for them to imagine as they worked long hours and came home every night with the same first question for my sister and me: ‘Did you finish your homework yet?’ But that is the transformative power of a good union job, something I can speak to personally.” 

Su also promised the ensure that hard work pays off for both workers and employers, and that she will work to “preserve and expand the American dream for all Americans.” 

During a virtual press conference on Wednesday hosted by the AFL-CIO, AFSCME President Lee Saunders credited Su as a major reason why the Biden-Harris administration is the most pro-worker administration in years. He said Su “understands the importance of the union difference and the power of having a union voice. She shares President Biden’s commitment to helping more workers organize and claim their seat at the table.” 

Saunders also said that Su “honors the essential role of public service workers like those who make up AFSCME … the corrections officers, sanitation workers, child care providers and more … the everyday heroes who keep our communities safe and strong every single day.”  

And in a letter to the Senate supporting her nomination to the top Labor Department post, Saunders described Su’s readiness for the role of secretary as well as the deep qualifications she brings from her service to the state of California.  

“[Su] has worked in close partnership with Secretary Marty Walsh to foster a strong, resilient and vibrant economy centered on workers, which will enable a smooth leadership transition for the agency and a continuation of the agenda they both charted,” Saunders wrote in the letter. “During her impressive service to the state of California, she implemented the laws passed by the legislature fairly and expertly.”  

Her service to that state included roles as secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency and California labor commissioner. Earlier, Su served as litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. 

Su, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, is also a past recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, which she won for her work as a human rights lawyer fighting for undocumented workers. 

During Wednesday’s press conference, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler announced the labor federation is launching a campaign to ensure Su receives a fair hearing and secures the nomination, despite attempts by corporate special interests who are trying to block her. The campaign, which AFSCME is part of, is called “Stand with Julie Su.” 

Saunders said AFSCME is playing a key role in the campaign by “educating and mobilizing members to carry a message to senators to say that the labor movement supports Julie Su 100%. We are all in. We’re going to do everything possible to make sure she becomes the next secretary of labor.” 

Read and download AFSCME’s letter to the Senate supporting Julie Su.

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