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Youngkin nominates George ‘Bryan’ Slater as Virginia secretary of labor

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Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) said on Thursday that he has chosen George “Bryan” Slater, a bureaucrat with years under Republican administrations in both Washington and Richmond, to serve as Virginia’s next secretary of labor.

Slater is closely associated with former governor Jim Gilmore (R), having served under Gilmore in the state’s attorney general office in the 1990s and then, once Gilmore became governor, as his secretary of administration. That experience is uncommon among Youngkin’s Cabinet picks, many of whom come from outside government.

As secretary of labor — a new position created last year — he will be tasked with overseeing a host of workforce development programs as well as the state’s unemployment agency, which had struggled with a flood of claims during the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans had opposed establishing the position.

“Workforce development will play a crucial part of jumpstarting our economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Youngkin said in a news release. “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.”

Democrats in Richmond had used their takeover of state government to chip away at Virginia’s staunch anti-union laws, giving counties and cities the power to approve collective bargaining with public employee unions for the first time in decades.

Similar legislation is likely to be less well received by Youngkin, who during the campaign expressed support for “right-to-work” laws that prevent workers from being forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

Slater most recently served under President Donald Trump, first in the U.S. Department of Transportation and then in the Department of Labor. He also has worked in the administrations of George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.