News & Commentary

February 12, 2023

Swap Agrawal

Swap Agrawal is a student at Harvard Law School.

In this weekend’s news and commentary, Sens. Sanders and Braun hold a press conference demanding at least seven paid sick days for rail workers, and CAPAC and the CBC endorse Deputy Labor Secretary Julie Su to be the next Secretary of Labor.

On February 9, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) held a joint press conference with rail workers to demand that carriers provide them with at least seven paid sick days. The senators were joined by representatives from SMART-TD, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, and the National Association of Chemical Distributors. Sen. Sanders mentioned the record profits of the railroad carriers and promised to question railway executives under oath in a Senate hearing if they did not “do the right thing.” “When I heard that you didn’t have a guaranteed sick day, I wondered how you could get by like that,” Sen. Braun said. The press conference can be viewed here. Sen. Sanders also sent a letter on Feb. 9 to rail company CEOs highlighting that the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED) and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (BRC) secured an agreement with CSX to guarantee paid sick days and encouraging other companies to follow their lead. The letter called out the rail companies for spending 184 percent more on stock buybacks and returns to shareholders than they did on their workers and showed that guaranteeing paid sick days would cost the companies less than 1.2 percent of their industry-wide profits.

On February 8, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) endorsed Julie Su, the Deputy Labor Secretary, to be the next Labor Secretary.  As Jason reported on Wednesday, current Labor Secretary Marty is reportedly set to depart from his role in the coming days to lead the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA). CAPAC noted that the Administration has no Secretary-level Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) official in the Cabinet and highlighted Su’s familiarity with the Department. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) also endorsed Deputy Secretary Su, describing her as “an unwavering advocate for workers’ rights since she started her legal career enforcing workplace laws, combatting wage theft, and insuring the health and safety of all workers.” However, ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has been pushing for former Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) last year.

Deputy Secretary Su has deep experience in the labor and employment field. She was the lead attorney for the El Monte Thai slavery case, which held manufacturers and operators liable for their treatment of garment workers and led to the creation of the T-visa for victims of human trafficking. Su was appointed to lead California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011. She reworked the DLSE into one of the most effective and aggressive labor law enforcement divisions in the country, making massive strides in stamping out wage theft in the state. Su then served as Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency under Gov. Gavin Newsom, where she led enforcement of AB 5. Su is an alum of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

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