Bernie Sanders Makes Case For Being Biden’s Labor Secretary
Sanders said Cabinet post would enable him to fight for 'living wage, equal pay for equal work'
Sen. Bernie Sanders made the case to join the Biden administration Thursday, saying that serving as Labor secretary for President-elect Joe Biden “would be a very attractive position.”
Sanders, I-Vt., during an interview on CNN Wednesday night, said he wants to “do everything I can to protect working families in the country who in many ways are living in terrible desperation right now.”
“And if I can do that in the Senate, that’s great,” he said. “If I can do it within the Biden administration, that’s great as well.”
Sanders was pressed on whether he had a preference.
“I think something like secretary of Labor would be a very attractive position,” Sanders said. “It would give me the opportunity to fight to raise the minimum wage, to a living wage, equal pay for equal work for women, it would give me the opportunity to make sure that workers who are entitled to overtime pay get that overtime pay.”
Sanders went on to add that he would ensure “workers get pensions that have been taken away from them,” and would “help workers organize into unions, so they can earn decent wages through collective bargaining, et cetera, et cetera.”
“There is a lot of work to be done in the Department of Labor,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ comments are just the latest as the former Democratic presidential candidate has expressed his interest in joining the Biden administration in that capacity.
Sanders was asked last week 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.
However, while the progressive part of the Democratic Party may favor Sanders for the post, an endorsement from the United Auto Workers International Union last week signals that the union part of the base would support an appointment of Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich.
Last week, president of UAW Rory L. Gamble wrote to Biden and his transition team urging them to consider Levin for Labor secretary.
“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.
“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 be a transformative leader in the U.S. Department of Labor when we need it most.”
Biden has not signaled, one way or the other, whom he will appoint for Labor secretary.
Author: Brooke Singman