Corporate lawyer Eugene Scalia was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s next Labor Secretary.
On Sept. 26, the Senate voted 53-44, along party lines, to confirm the son of the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court justice, came despite strenuous objections from both the panel’s Democrats and various labor groups and their allies.
“We’ve seen this awful nominee for the Secretary of Labor’s job who spent his career busting unions,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Scalia made a name for himself by leading business lobbying to kill the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ergonomic rules and defending Sea World after a killer whale drowned its trainer.
A decade ago, he was the lawyer who represented Walmart when the retail giant sued to overturn a Maryland law mandating any firm with more than 10,000 workers in the state had to devote at least 8 percent of payroll to health insurance for its workers. Scalia and Walmart won in court.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Scalia will be a Secretary of Corporate Interests, not a Secretary of Labor.
“Scalia will be a yes-man for President Trump’s anti-worker agenda, not a champion for working families, that he will let companies off the hook, not hold them accountable,” she said.
“He has fought against workers seeking the wages they were cheated out of, people with disabilities seeking a job opportunity, employees seeking a safer work environment, families seeking reliable advice as they plan for retirement, and even survivors seeking justice for workplace harassment and assault. In other words, the very people we need the Secretary of Labor to fight for,” Murray added.
In a letter to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, AFL-CIO Director of Government Affairs William Samuel filed a letter expressing the organization’s strong opposition to Scalia’s nomination.
“The Department of Labor is critical to the rights and well-being of millions of workers in this country, and working people need a Secretary of Labor who has demonstrated a commitment to the department’s mission,” Samuel stated. “The department has the critical task of ensuring fair payment of wages and overtime, safeguarding workers’ benefits, protecting workers from harassment and discrimination, guaranteeing their health and safety, and providing opportunities for job training through high quality registered apprenticeships.
“We need a Secretary of Labor whose top priority is protecting the health, safety and economic security of working people. By contrast, Eugene Scalia has spent his entire career representing corporate interests and fighting against the interests of working people,” he wrote.