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ABC, NAHB Throw Support Behind New DOL Head

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

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The new Department of Labor Secretary, R. Alexander Acosta, was confirmed Friday (April 28) with a 60-38 vote, marking the fourth time Acosta has been confirmed for an executive-brand position by the Senate.

Before being tapped by President Donald J. Trump as the second choice for the position (the first choice, fast-food businessman Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination in February), Acosta was the dean of Florida International Law School.

United State Department of Justice, Public Domain
via Wikimedia Commons

The new Department of Labor Secretary, R. Alexander Acosta (pictured), was confirmed Friday (April 28) with a 60-38 vote, marking the fourth time Acosta has been confirmed by the Senate.

He served as assistant attorney general for civil rights under President George W. Bush, he was on the National Labor Relations Board from 2002-03 and was a U.S. attorney for Florida.

His lengthy labor law-related background is what proponents pointed to, including Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who said, “He understands that a good-paying job is critical to helping workers realize the American dream for themselves and for their families.”

Acosta, the son of Cuban immigrants, is also the only Latinx member of the Trump administration.

As the last position to be confirmed, Acosta will have a lot to deal with right away, including whether to expand the category of Americans who are eligible for overtime pay, regulations on financial advisers, a possible minimum-wage hike to $15 an hour and Trump’s newly signed executive order titled “Buy American, Hire American.”

The EO has directed that all affiliated secretaries are to issue guidelines within 60 days.

Acosta, however, doesn’t have a clear-cut track record on these items, and when pressed on how he would keep his conservative political views out of his decision-making by Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Patty Murray (Washington), he chose not to comment.

Praise

His confirmation was bipartisan (eight democrats and one independent joined in the assenting vote), however, and he even garnered the support of some labor unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Laborers' International Union of North America. Other industry professionals announced their support after his confirmation, including Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, and Michael Bellaman, President and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

Both echoed a desire to deregulate and said they were looking forward to working with Acosta.

“We look forward to working with Secretary Acosta on issues that pertain to housing and the small business community,” MacDonald said. “These include removing regulatory barriers that needlessly raise housing costs, expanding training and employment opportunities to address the labor shortage in the residential construction industry, and reforming workplace safety regulations."

Bellaman also touched on the current labor shortage in the United States.

“Associated Builders and Contractors looks forward to working with Secretary Acosta to accomplish the U.S. Department of Labor’s vital mission of ensuring the safety, equitable treatment and advancement of all American workers without needlessly hindering economic growth,” Bellaman said. “ABC and our 21,000 members look forward to partnering with DOL to develop a plan to fill the construction industry’s well-documented shortage of skilled labor with American job seekers. We are eager to work with Secretary Acosta to advance policies that expand job training opportunities, create safe and healthy jobsites and grow the American economy.”

At his confirmation, Acosta acknowledged his parents and heritage, saying that their experience has framed his perspective.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Acosta said. “Too many Americans have seen jobs go overseas. Too many Americans have seen jobs filled by foreign workers. Too many Americans see that jobs are available, but that they don’t have the skills or the experience to fill those jobs. The skills gap is real and needs to be addressed. Supporting Americans' abilities to find good jobs, safe jobs, is a priority for President Trump, for Vice President Pence and for me.”

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Government; Jobs; President Trump; Regulations; Unions

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