Julie Su left her post as California labor secretary in 2021 to serve as the U.S. deputy secretary of labor and has been awaiting Senate confirmation for secretary since February.
Natalie Palugyai eventually filled the leadership vacuum in California but abruptly resigned in December under uncertain circumstances. Newsom then tapped the labor undersecretary, Stewart Knox, to take over. Last week a state Senate committee approved the nomination, setting it up for a final floor vote to come likely this week.

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During the hearing, Knox described how he grew up on a ranch with a grandmother who had no high school education but understood the need to acquire valuable skills. He worked with the community college district in the 1990s to upskill agricultural workers in Colusa County and did the same with the timber industry.
At the labor agency, Knox has helped farmworkers improve their jobs and understand their rights. Last week he traveled to Fresno to work on emerging job opportunities in agtech and said the state needs to support local agricultural communities, rather than taking a top-down approach.