Franchise group blasts Biden's choice for top Labor Department job

Julie Su has been a foe of business throughout her public service career, with a tendency to over-regulate, said the International Franchise Association.
Franchising's trade association doesn't want Su to lead Labor, saying she's anti-business. / Photo: Shutterstock

The franchising community is blasting the Biden administration for nominating Julie Su to succeed Marty Walsh as secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, citing her strong advocacy of California’s controversial Fast Act and other measures seen as anti-business.

While serving as secretary of the California’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Su drew sharp criticism from a broad front for her handling of the state’s unemployment insurance program early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics say more than a million displaced workers had to wait unduly long for aid while an estimated $31 billion in relief funds were misdirected to undeserving recipients like prison inmates.

The International Franchise Association also voiced concerns about what it characterizes as a tendency of Su, currently a deputy secretary of Labor, to seek more regulation and litigation instead of focusing on the enforcement of current rules.

“Deputy Secretary Su has been consistently hostile to small businesses throughout her career,” Michael Layman, SVP of government relations and public affairs for the IFA, said in a statement. “Based on her record, she does not deserve a promotion from a largely operations role to the principal policymaker at the department.”

The White House has described Su as a champion of workers’ rights who will bring an aggressive style to Labor. The onetime labor lawyer “will help fulfill our pledge to be the most pro-worker administration in history,” Vice President Kamala Harris said.

“Julie has spent her life fighting to make sure that everyone has a fair shot, that no community is overlooked, and that no worker is left behind,” President Biden said in nominating Su for the Cabinet position. “I look forward to continuing to work with Julie to build an economy that works for working people.”

Su joined the administration in 2021, reporting directly to Walsh. That was before California’s Fast Act had been passed. The first-of-its-kind measure creates a 10-person panel to set the minimum wage and workplace standards for workers employed by units of large fast-food chains. Four seats on the panel would be held by the workers or their representatives.

The law is on hold until California voters decide in a 2014 referendum if they want the Act to be enforced.

Chances of passing a federal version of the law are seen as slim.

Su’s chances of being confirmed by the Senate as Walsh’s replacement are uncertain. President Biden’s party holds a slim majority in the chamber.

Walsh, a lifelong supporter of unions, is leaving the administration to become head of the NHL Players Association.

The IFA noted that another Biden administration Labor nominee, David Weil, was rejected by the Senate because of what critics alleged was his anti-business stance. Weil was nominated to head Labor’s Wage and Hour Administration, a post he had held under President Biden.

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