March 30, 2017

Jobs With Justice Calls on Senators to Reject Acosta as Labor Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2017

CONTACT: Liz Cattaneo, liz(at)jwj.org, 202.352.3263

Washington, D.C. – The Secretary of Labor has the crucial responsibility of ensuring that employers provide working Americans in the United States with a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work, safe and equitable working conditions, and other workplace rights. Working people deserve no less than a champion and an advocate at the Department of Labor. We don’t expect R. Alexander Acosta to be either.

Today, eleven of the 23 senators on the Senate HELP committee agreed as they cast votes opposing his nomination.

Now, as the nomination moves to the Senate floor, it is urgent that the rest of the Senate oppose Mr. Acosta in the face of growing concerns that he will dismantle important Labor Department rules to benefit large corporations.

Senators can’t overlook how Mr. Acosta avoided taking detailed and definitive positions at his hearing on how he will support making workplaces safe, fair, and sustainable. He also evaded questions on how he would advocate for full funding of the agency, maintain enforcement levels to prevent wage theft, and whether he would support the implementation of OSHA’s crystalline silica exposure rule. Rather than commit to advocating for working people as Labor Secretary, Mr. Acosta repeatedly said he would defer to President Trump’s preferences. Cabinet secretaries are not merely beholden to the president; otherwise, why would there be a need for Senate confirmation hearings at all?

Furthermore, Mr. Acosta refused to fully defend the recent update to overtime standards, an update that a federal judge has put on hold, which raised serious doubts about whether he is fit to be Labor Secretary. He even suggested that there should not be a threshold at all below which working people automatically qualify for overtime protection. Mr. Acosta also testified that the court might have been correct to throw out the overtime rule, due to it creating “stress” for employers. His remarks showed disregard for the millions of low- and middle-income people working extra hours and without extra pay, without updated regulations to protect them.

America’s working families are watching to see if senators will stand up for them or unite with President Trump’s dangerous agenda by confirming Mr. Acosta.