Republicans say Biden’s proposed Labor Secretary would bring California chaos to federal level

by Will Tubbs

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News

Julie Su, the woman President Joe Biden has tabbed to be the next Secretary of Labor, was excoriated by Republicans during a Thursday hearing. 

Conservatives on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ripped Su for, in her capacity as head of the California labor department, having reclassified thousands of California independent contractors as employees and overseen a department that shelled out billions in fraudulent unemployment payments. 

“President Biden’s nominee to run the Labor Department let billions of dollars in fraud occur on her watch in California,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted. “She wants to help Big Labor bosses take money from independent contractors’ paychecks to send to left-wing causes. The Senate should not confirm Julie Su.”

Republicans dug in on Su’s efforts to reclassify people who worked for such companies and Lyft and Uber as employees, which conservatives labeled as an effort to eliminate the concept of an independent contractor. 

“Bonafide independent contractors will always have a place in our economy, they have and always will and they’re very, very important,” Su said. 

Su’s decision to reclassify granted the newly-minted employees numerous benefits, but it also riled powerful business interests, many of whom have launched campaigns in the home states of moderate Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) urging voters to pressure their senator into voting “no” on Su. 

As of this writing, none of the moderate senators has disclosed if they will ultimately vote to confirm Su. If all three voted against confirmation, Su’s candidacy would be sunk.  

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the ranking member on the committee, accused Su of having enforced “”controversial laws that dismantled the gig economy.” He also asked if Su was willing to commit to not pursuing California-style laws at the federal level, to which she replied “yes.” 

Su, who seemed to be having a pleasant time throughout the hearing and maintained an objectively positive attitude in the face of questioning, had a substantially harder time putting a positive shine on the matter of more that $30 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments, most of which were made during the height of the pandemic. 

“Under your leadership in California, $31 billion was fraudulently paid out,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said. “In this case, your record there is so severely lacking. I don’t know how in the world it makes sense for the president to nominate you to take over this department.”

But, perhaps the biggest concern among Republicans and some Democrats is Su’s connection to labor. Republicans argue Su is prone to showing too much favoritism toward unions and has never truly worked as an arbitrator between a union and corporation.

“With 150 labor contracts expiring this year, the potential of replacing him with someone who has a history of bias and no direct experience handling labor disputes should be concerning to everyone,” Cassidy said.

Su insisted that she is a neutral party and has the best interest of all in mind. 

“I have been a leader dedicated to finding and expanding the vast areas of common ground between employers and employees,” Su said.