Labor's Chao Makes History

Elaine Chao celebrated becoming the second-longest- serving labor secretary in a classy way. The day she passed his record of 6.3 years, she called former Johnson Labor Secretary Willard Wirtz to compare notes on the job.

Wirtz, now 95, and Chao, a buff of labor history, talked about the good old days, and she even told Wirtz of hearing him talk about a steel strike on the Johnson White House tapes. "I didn't even know I was being recorded," Wirtz says.

"We had a terrific chat," says Chao. "I hope that I can be as witty at 75 as he is at 95." For the record, the longest-serving labor boss: Frances Perkins, during FDR's four terms.


By Paul Bedard

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