The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, August 09, 2019

Organized labor is no fan of new DOL secretary

By The Building Tradesman

Organized labor really, really doesn't like President Trump's pick to be head of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The DOL, established in 1913 as the federal agency set up to look after the interests of the nation's workers, has in recent decades generally been seen as either pro-worker or pro-business, depending on whether we have a Democrat or Republican president. 

Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court justice Eugene Scalia, is President Trump's pick to replace Alex Acosta, who resigned last month. Acosta, ironically, was disliked by business groups because he wasn't moving quickly enough to implement the president's calls for removing workplace rules and regulations. Two primary examples are the limiting of overtime pay opportunities for workers and reducing joint employer (franchise/franchisee) exposure in legal cases brought by workers.

"Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else," Trump tweeted. 

But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Scalia "has spent his entire career making life more difficult and dangerous for working people. We opposed him in 2002 for solicitor of labor based on his anti-worker record, and his disdain for working people has worsened, not improved.

"Scalia has fought ergonomics standards, threatened to destroy workers’ retirement savings, challenged the expansion of health care and dismissed repetitive injuries as 'junk science.' His extreme views are in direct conflict with what America deserves from a secretary of labor."

The Washington Post said Scalia, a management-side attorney, "has devoted almost a decade to representing corporate clients fighting rules put in place by the Obama administration that were designed to protect employees in the workplace and toughen restrictions on Wall Street firms."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President for Employment Policy Glenn Spencer said Scalia "is an excellent choice to serve as Secretary of Labor, especially as the Department completes work on several critical rulemakings."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement that "President Trump is missing an opportunity to nominate a fighter for workers, like a union member, to be America’s next labor secretary."

Scalia's nomination needs to be confirmed by the Senate.