President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Labor received additional time in the hot seat over her role in California’s controversial worker classification law.
On Wednesday, June 7, Julie Su testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss the department’s 2024 budget. However, the Labor Department nominee also faced several questions about her connection to California’s AB5.
Su became deputy labor secretary in July 2021 after narrowly passing confirmation with a 50-47 vote. Before that, Su served as California’s labor commissioner during the implementation of AB5 – a controversial worker classification law that makes it extremely difficult for a worker to be considered an independent contractor. In trucking alone, the law has led to truck drivers leaving the industry or moving out of state.
In February, Biden announced he was nominating Su to become the next leader of the Department of Labor, replacing Marty Walsh.
Soon after, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and others pointed to concerns regarding Su’s tenure in California.
“We are concerned that Ms. Su would continue to pursue an ideologically motivated agenda toward worker classification that ignores the thousands of small-business truckers who depend on the ability to work as an independent contractor,” OOIDA wrote in March. “Make no mistake, if Ms. Su were to advance the same policies that she championed in California, it would force hundreds of thousands of truckers to change their business model and put their livelihood in jeopardy.”
Su said during the hearing she would not pursue an AB5 model on the national level if confirmed as labor secretary.
However, that wasn’t enough to convince Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., who questioned Su during the hearing.
“Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su spent (Wednesday’s) hearing astonishingly distancing herself from policies she spent years championing, refused to answer even the most basic of questions, and demonstrated she is manifestly unqualified for U.S. labor secretary,” Kiley said.
“Su refused to answer whether AB5 was a good law, even though she championed and aggressively enforced the law. Su refused to answer whether she supports President Biden’s position that AB5 is a model for the nation.”
It’s up to the Senate to vote on Su’s nomination. It’s not clear if and when a vote will take place. LL