Bloomberg Law
July 6, 2022, 4:13 PM

Former AFL-CIO Trade Chief Named Top White House Labor Adviser

Ian Kullgren
Ian Kullgren

Celeste Drake, a former union official and trade expert, has been named President Joe Biden’s top labor adviser, a White House official said.

Drake recently served as “Made in America” director for the White House Office of Management and Budget. She previously was a senior trade official for the AFL-CIO, helping influence the Trump administration’s negotiations for the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The deal—a rare point of agreement between the Trump administration and organized labor—seeks to strengthen union protections for Mexican workers to prevent corporations from undercutting US-made goods.

Drake also worked as a government affairs executive for the Directors Guild of America after leaving the AFL-CIO in 2019.

At OMB, she oversaw a new office tasked with enforcing an executive order directing federal agencies to increase purchasing of US products. The January 2021 order makes it harder for agencies to obtain waivers to purchase foreign products, requiring them to post requests on a public website visible to domestic bidders.

“In recent years, ‘Buy American’ has become a hollow promise,” Biden said in July 2021. Federal agencies and contractors “have got a new sheriff in town. We’re going to be checking.”

Drake replaces Seth Harris, Biden’s first labor adviser, who left the White House last week to take a job at Northeastern University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ian Kullgren in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at; Laura D. Francis at

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