By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Wednesday urged the U.S. Senate to quickly confirm Julie Su as Labor Department secretary and hailed his nominee for her past work to increase worker wages and expand protections.

Biden, speaking alongside Su at a White House event celebrating her nomination, said she had led efforts to establish and support union jobs in her current role as the department’s deputy secretary and in past labor positions in California.

“She has increased the minimum wage, cracked down on wage theft, protected trafficked workers, established and enforced workplace safety standards, and so much more,” Biden said.

“I ask the United States Senate to move this nomination quickly so we can continue (to) build (an) economy that works for everyone,” Biden said, while praising outgoing department secretary Marty Walsh for his pro-union work.

Su, a daughter of Chinese immigrants, said that she had spent her career fighting for workers’ rights.

“So to all workers who are toiling in the shadows, to workers who are organizing for power and respect in the workplace – know that we see you, we stand with you and we will fight for you,” said Su, 54.

Union and labor officials, as well as progressives in Biden’s Democratic Party, pushed the Biden administration to appoint Su as department head, citing her familiarity with the agency and labor policy.

A 2013 report on her work as California labor commissioner, a position she held from 2011-2018, found her tenure resulted in a spike in enforcement activity.

Outgoing secretary Walsh is expected to step down in mid-March to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose; Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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