Business lobbyists take aim at Biden labor nominee 

President Biden and his nominee to be secretary of Labor, Julie Su, celebrate during an event
Greg Nash
President Biden and his nominee to be secretary of Labor, Julie Su, celebrate during an event to introduce her in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 1. Greg Nash

Business lobbying groups voiced concerns with Labor Secretary nominee Julie Su on Friday, putting pressure on senators to reject President Biden’s pick to lead the key department.

A coalition of 32 business groups including the National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association and International Franchise Association penned a letter criticizing Su’s record and urging senators to closely examine her nomination.  

They wrote that Su was not able to resolve a critical labor dispute at West Coast ports during her tenure as California labor secretary and pointed to Su’s support for a California law aimed at boosting wages and standards for fast food workers, which franchisers bitterly oppose. 

“Confirming a labor secretary with a track record of putting roadblocks in the way of solving the current workforce shortage would negatively affect every American, every business (particularly small businesses), and the economy,” the groups wrote to the top lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. 

The business groups also criticized Su’s pandemic workplace safety rules, arguing that they were “overly broad, unworkable, burdensome, and wholly unfair.”

Su, who is currently serving as acting Labor Secretary, is seen by labor unions as a key player in Biden’s efforts to boost organizing efforts and crack down on wage theft. Former Labor Secretary Marty Walsh recently stepped down to become head of the National Hockey League Players’ Association. 

The Biden administration has a slew of rules backed by labor organizers and opposed by big business, including a proposal to reclassify certain contractors as employees to ensure they receive benefits and the right to unionize. 

“Over several decades, Julie has led the largest state labor department in the nation, cracked down on wage theft, fought to protect trafficked workers, increased the minimum wage, created good-paying, high-quality jobs, and established and enforced workplace safety standards,” Biden said last month.

But it’s unclear whether Su will get to the 50 votes needed for confirmation. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) are increasingly siding with Republicans ahead of their reelection bids. 

Big business lobbyists have successfully blocked several key Biden nominees who pledged to strictly regulate private industry, including Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn and banking regulator pick Saule Omarova.

Tags Business Joe Biden Joe Manchin Labor Secretary lobbying lobbyists Marty Walsh National Retail Federation nominee

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