President Joe Biden’s top labor policy adviser is stepping down, the White House announced Tuesday, leaving the administration without an experienced hand amid a series of contentious union negotiations.
(Bloomberg) — President Joe Biden’s top labor policy adviser is stepping down, the White House announced Tuesday, leaving the administration without an experienced hand amid a series of contentious union negotiations.
Celeste Drake is set to become the deputy director-general of the International Labor Organization — a United Nations agency that sets international labor standards — according a person familiar with the matter.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said in a statement that Drake is a “leading authority on labor policy” and one of the administration’s “greatest champions for working families.”
“The president promised to be the most pro-union president in American history, and Celeste’s sharp policy focus, trusted voice, deep relationships, and unwavering commitment to working Americans have been essential to the president fulfilling that promise,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients said in a statement.
The White House did not name a replacement for Drake. Erika Dinkel-Smith, who has spearheaded Biden’s labor outreach, was elevated last week to become senior labor adviser within the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. That move signaled her increased role coordinating labor policy and outreach, according to White House spokeswoman Robyn Patterson.
Drake helped the administration navigate tough negotiations between employers and unions that had implications for US supply chains at West Coast ports, on freight railroads, and most recently with United Parcel Service Inc., which reached a tentative agreement last month with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
There are more talks on the horizon with potential for disruption. Hollywood writers and actors are currently on strike. And the United Auto Workers are in pointed negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three automakers. Biden has tapped senior adviser Gene Sperling to liaise with the union and automakers in those talks.
Drake took her role as deputy director of the National Economic Council for labor and economy in 2022, succeeding Seth Harris.
Reuters first reported Drake’s departure.
(Adds Erika Dinkel-Smith promotion in fifth paragraph)
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