The United Auto Workers International Union has recommended that President-elect Joe Biden appoint Rep. Andy Levin to be labor secretary, calling him a “true advocate for workers” and touting his record of “inspiring and leading people to create effective change.”
Levin, D-Mich., was just reelected to the House of Representatives for a second term representing Michigan’s 9th District.
“I write to respectfully urge you to nominate Congressman Andy Levin as Secretary of Labor,” president of UAW Rory L. Gamble wrote to Biden and his transition team. “As you are well aware, our country is in a moment of unprecedented crisis of public health, economic, racial, and environmental justice.”
“I believe it is essential to bring into your cabinet someone from the labor movement with impeccable credentials, whose advice and counsel you can trust and who will help you to meet this moment with vision, passion, and experience born of decades of work in the trenches of workers’ issues,” he continued. “Andy Levin is precisely this person.”
Gamble said Levin “believes the single most transformational change we can make to improve the U.S. economy is to bring collective bargaining coverage to millions of American workers.”
Representative Andy Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, speaks during a news conference to introduce the EV Freedom Act with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, right, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Alex Edelman/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Gamble touted Levin’s experience, having served in the Labor Department under former President Bill Clinton, “where he was tasked with working on labor law reform, creating policies to protect mass transit workers, and fending off Newt Gingrich’s attempt to weaken the 40-hour work week.”
Gamble also noted Levin “is the only sitting representative or senator who has run a state workforce system,” citing his experience as Michigan’s chief workforce officer who ran the “No Worker Left Behind” initiative and “built the most aggressive green jobs program of its time,”
“I appreciate that there are many fine economists and state and federal officials who could serve a President Biden ably as Secretary of Labor,” Gamble wrote. “The question is whether we want someone who can just administer programs capably, or whether we need something more.”
He added: “The labor movement has not seen one of its own serve as Secretary of Labor in modern times. Andy will Abe a transformative leader in the U.S. Department of Labor when we need it most.”
The push comes as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has expressed interest in joining the Biden Cabinet as labor secretary.
However, while the progressive part of the Democratic Party may favor the former Democratic presidential candidate, the endorsement from the United Auto Workers signals that the union part of the base would support a Levin appointment.
Leading progressives have floated Sanders as a potential candidate for the labor secretary position. Sanders was asked specifically about whether he would accept the role of labor secretary.
“If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it?” Sanders said. “Yes, I would.”
Sanders ran unsuccessful bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and 2020. He was routinely critical of Biden’s policy record on the campaign trail, but ultimately endorsed the former vice president in his race against President Trump.