The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 03, 2017

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Union pressure nets new Labor nominee

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Leaders of the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees promised to rigorously probe the record of Alexander Acosta, dean of a Florida law school and chairman of a South Florida bank, who is GOP President Donald Trump’s new nominee as Secretary of Labor. Acosta is also a former Republican-named National Labor Relations Board member.

Trump announced his nod for Acosta, 46, who is also a former U.S. attorney for Miami and law clerk for conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, before Alito joined that court, on Feb. 16.

Trump named Acosta barely 24 hours after the president’s first choice, fast food executive Andrew Puzder, withdrew in the face of certain Senate defeat. Workers, unions and their allies exposed his bad record on workers’ rights, the minimum wage, overtime pay, safety and health violations and wage theft at his restaurants and sexism in the firms’ ads.

Unions celebrated Puzder’s withdrawal with an early-morning rally near the Capitol. Later, they had cautious reactions to Acosta. But ThinkProgress, a progressive blog, raised questions about Acosta’s record in George W. Bush’s Justice Department’s civil rights division.

For his part, Trump, meeting earlier with the self-named Trump Caucus of lawmakers, called Acosta, “a star, a great person, a great person.”

“Working people changed the game on this nomination. Unlike Andy Puzder, Alexander Acosta’s nomination deserves serious consideration. In one day, we’ve gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said.

“We will of course review Mr. Acosta’s record as thoroughly as we did the previous nominee’s. Mr. Acosta will have to answer tough questions and explain how he will enforce and uphold labor laws to benefit working people and not further tilt the balance of power toward corporate CEOs.

“The Labor Secretary is not just another Cabinet member. His or her actions directly impact our wages, safety and rights on the job every single day. We will judge this nominee by the commitment he shows to making life better for working people,” Trumka added.

Former ABC rep to have sway at Labor

President Trump has picked the former chief lobbyist and vice president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), Geoffrey Burr to join the Labor Department as part of the “beachhead team.”

Union Communications Consulting Services reports that Burr spent seven years as the ABC's vice president for government affairs, lobbying for the notoriously anti-union group against vital building trades issues like prevailing wage.

Burr is likely in line for the chief of staff position at the Labor Department, as soon as Trump's second nominee Alexander Acosta, or whoever, is confirmed as the new secretary of labor. In that new position, Burr would now have control over department's implementation of Davis Bacon prevailing wage requirements, a law which he has fought to overturn.