Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Agency: Who Is David Lanier?

Monday, November 18, 2013
David Lanier

A 50-year veteran of labor and workplace issues who has served in key positions in Brown administrations new and old has been replaced as secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency.

David Lanier, who has worked extensively in the state Legislature since 1995, took over as Governor Jerry Brown’s chief labor negotiator earlier this month after Marty Morgenstern announced his retirement as secretary. Morgenstern, who will remain as an unpaid senior adviser to the governor, joined Brown in 1975 as director of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations after working for unions in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Morgenstern was a key administration player in passage of the state’s collective bargaining laws, including the Educational Employment Relations Act that established bargaining rights in public schools and community colleges, the Ralph C. Dills Act that gave state government workers bargaining rights and the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act, which allowed collective bargaining in the state university system.

Although the Brown administration championed a number of important labor laws, his and Morgenstern’s relationship with labor was up and down. In 1979, Brown twice vetoed proposals to give state workers a 14.5% wage increase, before being overridden by the Legislature. At one point the executive secretary of the state AFL-CIO accused Brown of “leading a lynch mob against government workers.”

Morgenstern was in and out of government during ensuing Republican administrations before returning as chief labor negotiator for Governor Gray Davis from 1999 to 2003. He was appointed secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency by Brown in January 2011.

His successor, Lanier, was legislative director for state Assembly member Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) from 1995 to 1997 and was a consultant for the Joint Legislative Government Oversight Task Force in 1996 and ’97. Lanier, a Democrat, was chief of staff for Democratic Assembly member Grace Napolitano from 1997 to 1998, before she was elected to Congress.

For the next 12 years, Lanier served as special advisor to the Speaker at the Assembly Speaker’s Office of Member Services. Brown appointed him as his chief deputy legislative affairs secretary in 2011.

The Labor and Workforce Development Agency secretary is a cabinet-level position. The agency was created in 2002 during the Davis administration, pulling together several departments that dealt with worker and workplace issues.

The agency oversees the Employment Development Department (EDD), which administers unemployment insurance, disability insurance and paid family leave programs; the Department of Industrial Relations; the Agricultural Labor Relations Board; the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board; and the Workforce Investment Board.   

The position pays $180,250 a year and requires Senate confirmation.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern Retires; Brown Names David Lanier to Post (by David Siders, Sacramento Bee)

Gov. Jerry Brown Names David Lanier New State Labor Secretary (by Anthony York, Los Angeles Times)

Longtime State Official Marty Morgenstern to Retire (by Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times)

Governor Brown Appoints New Labor Secretary, Senior Advisor (Office of the Governor)

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