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Seth Harris '83 speaks to ILR students in Dougherty Lounge in 2014.

Harris '83 Named to White House Post

The White House announced today that Seth Harris ’83 will join the National Economic Council as deputy assistant to the president for labor and economy.

As Biden’s top labor adviser, Harris will coordinate relationships between the Biden administration and labor groups, and oversee its workers’ rights efforts, according to Bloomberg. 

“Seth Harris has had a distinguished career in academia and public service. He will play a vital part in the new administration’s labor policymaking and relations with unions. His focus on worker rights and labor relations is an important signal of the administration’s approach to labor and economic matters. He is a tremendous example of how ILR’s alumni contribute to public service and policy,” said Alexander Colvin, Ph.D. '99, the Kenneth F. Kahn '69 Dean of the ILR School and the Martin F. Scheinman '75, 'M.S. '76, Professor of Conflict Resolution.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten’80 are among the labor leaders applauding Harris’s appointment.
Harris was the Biden-Harris campaign’s principal labor policy adviser and a member of the U.S. Labor Department transition team. He was acting secretary of labor and deputy U.S. secretary of labor from 2009 to 2014 and served for six and a half years in the labor department during the Clinton Administration.

An attorney, business adviser and former trade unionist, he served as an ILR School distinguished scholar and is a visiting professor at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. 

He has co-authored three books and authored scholarly articles and op-eds on labor, employment, leadership, retirement and economics. 

Harris was a professor at New York Law School, of which he is a graduate, and directed its Labor & Employment Law Programs.

The 2010 recipient of ILR's Groat Award, grew up as the son of a high school librarian and a high school social studies teacher, both union members. 

Harris began working on political campaigns when he was 10 years old. In high school, his interest in social sciences led to ILR. "It struck me as a near-perfect fit," he said in a 2010 interview.

At ILR, he said in a 2013 interview, "I figured out who I was and what I wanted to be."

"Collective bargaining, economics – I use that stuff today," he said. "The ILR School is still an important presence in my life. I think of the people in ILR as extended family."

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