Flash Report: California Labor Secretary Joining Biden Administration

Julie Su, secretary of California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA), has been nominated to become the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. It is the number two post at the federal agency and would put Su in charge of the sprawling department’s day-to-day operations, which includes Fed-OSHA.

Su has come under much criticism of late for the estimated $30 billion in unemployment fraud in California. The EDD – Employment Development Department – which administers unemployment- is a Labor and Workforce Agency unit. Benefits were paid to prisoners, and in one case, 1700 claims were filed from the same address. Reportedly some of the fraudulent funds were obtained by gangs and used to purchase drugs and weapons.

Su was named LWDA secretary in 2019. The agency includes the Department of Industrial Relations (Cal/OSHA’s parent organization), Agricultural Labor Relations Board, Public Employment Relations Board, Workforce Development Board, Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, Employment Training Panel, and Employment Development Department.

One of the agency’s under Su’s purview, EDD, has been the source of great controversy during the pandemic, with an antiquated bureaucracy unable to keep up with the demand for unemployment benefits, head-scratching failures, and a fraud scandal that the department admits bilked the system out of more than $30 billion. The agency has paid out about $114 billion since March 2020. These controversies are sure to put Su on the hot seat during her confirmation hearing.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden nominated Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary. The new administration has yet to announce its choice for the Fed-OSHA chief.  Labor advocates and about 100 members of Congress urged Biden to make a woke choice – by picking Su so that the cabinet would have at least one Asian American or Pacific Islander.