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Biden adds former Obama labor official Harris to White House

Jennifer Epstein, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Former Obama Labor Department official Seth Harris is joining the White House as a top adviser to President Joe Biden on labor issues, an administration official said Tuesday.

A former acting and deputy labor secretary, Harris will coordinate the White House’s relationship with labor groups and efforts on workers’ rights. His title is deputy assistant to the president for labor and the economy.

Harris joins the White House after Biden on Sunday weighed in on a campaign to unionize an Inc. warehouse in Alabama, offering support for workers who seek to organize without outright endorsing the union.

Harris’ work will touch on worker organizing, collective bargaining and labor standards enforcement, among other issues, the official said. He will work closely with the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council and other bodies within the administration.

“Seth has a broad base of knowledge about the labor community,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in an interview. “He’ll help the president tremendously in the White House and help working people in the country.”


Harris was the Biden campaign’s top adviser on labor issues and a member of the Labor Department transition team. He was deputy labor secretary from 2009 to 2014 and spent six months during that period as acting secretary. He also spent more than six years in the Clinton administration’s Labor Department.

Harris has faced criticism from the left for working at the law firm Dentons after leaving the Obama administration. The firm has represented employers including Walmart Inc. in labor disputes.

He has also argued that drivers for Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. don’t fit the existing classifications of employee or independent contractor and should instead be called “independent workers,” who “would not qualify for hours-based benefits, including overtime or minimum wage requirements.

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