WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks during today’s executive session to consider the nomination of Department of Labor (DOL) Acting Secretary Julie Su to be Secretary of DOL. If reported out of Committee, Su’s nomination will move to the Senate floor for a final vote at a later date.
Specifically, Cassidy highlighted her decades of partisan activism, including her time in California where she oversaw the development of AB 5, a controversial law that attempts to eliminate the gig economy. He also raised concerns about Su’s ability to lead an agency and lack of negotiation experience. With 150 labor contracts expiring this year, Cassidy expressed the serious concern of replacing former Secretary Marty Walsh with someone who has no direct experience handling labor disputes.
Additionally, Cassidy criticized Su for ignoring the requests from senators on the committee in relation to the Questions for the Record process as part of her nomination hearing. Su ignored requests for documents and failed to respond to questions entirely. Cassidy questioned Su’s intention and ability to work in good faith with Congress when she has already refused to respond adequately to questions from members of the Committee tasked with overseeing DOL.
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Thank you, Chair Sanders,
Former Secretary Marty Walsh received bipartisan support for his nomination because he had unquestionable experience running organizations and handling negotiations. He worked to develop trust with both labor unions and the business community.
It is clear the nominee we are considering today is far from that mold.
Julie Su has a decades-long record of partisan activism and promoting policies that undermine workers to the benefit of politically connected labor unions.
In California, Ms. Su was the chief enforcer of AB 5, a controversial law that attempts to eliminate the gig economy. While Ms. Su said the Department of Labor cannot unilaterally enact an ABC test, she declined to commit that she would not attempt to pursue a similar policy to accomplish the same goal.
We asked if she would pursue changes to the joint employer rule, a major priority of unions that would completely undermine the franchise model which employs 8 million Americans. Her only commitment was that it would not be on the department’s agenda...in June.
Not a satisfactory answer.
In fact, following her hearing, many members of this committee submitted questions for the record to get better clarity from Ms. Su. Unfortunately, Ms Su ignored Senators’ requests for documents and failed to respond to questions entirely. Some of the so-called answers we did receive were simply copy and pasted sections of DOL press releases that only indirectly referenced the questions presented.
How can we believe that Ms. Su will work in good faith with Congress when she refuses to respond adequately to even questions for the record from members of this Committee? It seems unlikely that she would be more transparent after the confirmation process concludes.
There are also serious concerns about Ms. Su’s ability to manage an agency. The only large agency she has run, the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, lost $31 billion to fraudsters in unemployment insurance. Despite repeated warnings, she chose to waive crucial safeguards recommended by the Department of Labor. This was confirmed by the California Office of the Inspector General.
During her hearing, we heard this wasn’t a big deal because other states had fraud too. Well, I don't think the leaders of those departments should be Secretary of Labor either.
There are 150 labor contracts expiring this year. When labor disputes are not handled properly, there are massive supply chain implications and economic impacts. During Ms. Su’s hearing, she was unable to provide a single instance in which she handled a successful negotiation.
Ms. Su cited being with Marty Walsh during the rail negotiation as an experience. A negotiation which notoriously failed and required Congress to intervene and pick up the pieces.
A qualified Secretary of Labor needs to successfully handle negotiations, manage a department properly, and refrain from partisan activism. I have not seen evidence of Ms. Su’s ability to do any of those three things.
That is why I am voting no on her nomination, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.