March 21, 2017

Sen. Warren Questions Labor Secretary Nominee Acosta Before Confirmation Hearing

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) today sent a 23-page letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Nominee, Alexander Acosta, outlining a range of questions concerning Acosta's qualifications and views on issues before the department. The letter was sent in advance of Acosta's confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) scheduled for Wednesday.

"Your career has included little engagement with labor law, regulation, and enforcement, and, to my knowledge, you have not conveyed your views on federal labor law in public statements or publications to any significant extent," Senator Warren wrote. "While I am eager to hear more about your stances on these important issues at your upcoming HELP Committee hearing and in your written responses to my questions, I am very concerned about the possibility that you will simply fall in line with President Trump's anti-worker statements and policies, which would be disastrous for the millions of American workers who rely on the Department of Labor's enforcement of labor law."

The letter raises concerns about Acosta's tenure as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ), specifically a hiring scandal caused in part by Acosta's ineffective management of his own deputies, as determined by DOJ's Inspector General. In addition, Acosta's record at the DOJ reveals "a willingness to overrule agency experts based on political consideration and a failure to impartially defend the civil rights of all Americans, particularly minorities and other historically disenfranchised groups," Senator Warren wrote.

In the letter, Senator Warren questions Acosta's views on a number of other important issues that would fall within the Labor Secretary's purview, including enforcement of wage and hour laws, implementation of the DOL's conflict of interest rule, regulations protecting workers from discrimination, plans to address labor law violations by federal contractors, and ensuring workplace health and safety rules and fair scheduling for workers.

In addition, Senator Warren asks Acosta to outline how he plans to insulate himself from potential conflicts of interest, should the Trump Organization violate any DOL regulations.

"If confirmed as Labor Secretary, your decisions will profoundly impact the lives of 150 million American workers. Your policy choices will affect their paychecks, their ability to build financial security for themselves and their families, and their health and safety," wrote Senator Warren. "It will be your job to enforce the hard-won labor protections that keep workers out of harm's way and ensure that they are paid a fair day's wage for a hard day's work."

The letter follows a similar document sent to President Trump's first nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination before responding. "While Andrew Puzder's withdrawal was a victory for every American who works for a paycheck, the bar for Secretary of Labor is not simply ‘better than Andrew Puzder,'" Senator Warren wrote.

A PDF copy of the letter is available here.