Youngkin announces labor secretary pick, promising VEC fix
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) —
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin announced his pick Thursday for secretary of labor, a Cabinet role that will involve overseeing a Youngkin campaign promise to overhaul the beleaguered state employment commission.
George “Bryan” Slater, a veteran of both politics and state and federal government work, has been tapped for the job, the Youngkin transition announced.
Slater served as secretary of administration for former Gov. Jim Gilmore and as director of administration for the attorney general’s office, also under Gilmore.
Most recently, Slater served as assistant secretary for administration and management at the U.S. Department of Labor and assistant secretary of administration for the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Donald Trump, according to the transition announcement.
Slater is also a former executive director of the Republican Party of Georgia.
“Workforce development will play a crucial part of jumpstarting our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bryan’s experience and leadership will be critical to the development of talent, training of workers, and protection of Virginia’s right-to-work laws that will attract investment to Virginia,” Youngkin said in a statement.
Youngkin went on to say that Slater would be a key partner in “fixing the Virginia Employment Commission and delivering results for the Commonwealth.”
The VEC struggled to keep up with the flood of applications for benefits sparked by government-mandated shutdowns amid the pandemic. A backlog of cases built up, and complaints flooded lawmakers’ offices.
A watchdog report in November urged lawmakers to increase their oversight of the agency and outlined how problems with staffing, technology and improper payments persisted long after the initial surge in applications.
Slater’s selection marked the incoming governor’s ninth cabinet announcement. Cabinet members are subject to legislative approval.
Youngkin will be sworn in Jan. 15, days after the General Assembly convenes its annual session.