July 15, 2019

Jobs With Justice Statement Regarding Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta’s Resignation


Contact: Jessica Felix Romero, Jobs With Justice | jessica@jwj.org | 202-393-1044 x104

Washington, D.C. –  The resignation of Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta last week, after reports of the sweetheart deal he provided financier Jeffrey Epstein over sexual abuse charges, put a needed spotlight on the Department of Labor and the alarming agendas threatening working people.  Leadership at the Department of Labor directly impacts working people and participatory democracy.

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.  However, Donald Trump’s previous choices for labor secretary, Acosta and Andrew Puzder, have documented disregard for working people. Puzder, who failed to win confirmation, was a super-rich fast-food industry CEO.  Acosta, who spent more than two years on the job was clearly beholden to corporations, overseeing multiple policy changes that hurt working people.

Jobs With Justice previously joined numerous civil rights, human rights, labor, and community organizations to raise concerns about soon-to-be Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella’s record. Pizzella lobbied to block bipartisan legislation for basic worker protections in the Northern Mariana Islands, where garment manufacturers could produce clothing labeled made in the U.S.A. without having to comply with U.S. minimum wage laws, resulting in unchecked slave labor practices. Pizzella’s pro-business agenda, which he clearly signaled during his 2017 confirmation process, will hurt working people.

As a new nomination process unfolds, Jobs With Justice will hold both nominees and senators accountable for their role in dismantling important Labor Department rules to disproportionately tip the scales in favor of large corporations.

“The ability of everyday people to organize and collectively bargain with employers and others who have power over their economic sustainability is fundamental to a healthy democracy. The Department of Labor is tasked with upholding this critical practice in a way that allows working people and executives to come to the table and negotiate on equal footing.  This includes policies such as insisting employers provide ‘just cause’ when terminating someone to prevent retaliation, taking responsibility for the conditions of employees at all levels of contracting, and supporting workers’ ability to form unions.  Any effort to disproportionately favor corporations at the Department of Labor inevitably undermines and erodes our democracy,” said Erica Smiley, Executive Director of Jobs with Justice.


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