Eugene Scalia Spent Career Fighting Against the Labor Department’s Mission To Protect Workers’ Safety, Wages, Retirements, and Rights

Trump Wants Another Federal Agency Run by an Enemy of Its Mission 

*Read New Report from Allied Progress, ‘Enemy Within’

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Labor Secretary may not typically receive the same level of public attention as other members of the President’s cabinet, but the responsibilities they hold are no less important, including the enforcement of laws that protect workers’ wages, retirement, safety, and the right to medical and family leave. And yet President Trump is expected to nominate someone for the post who has stood against virtually every element of the DOL’s mission: corporate lawyer Eugene Scalia. Consumer watchdog group Allied Progress released a new report today, ‘Enemy Within’and called on members of the Senate HELP committee to demand a new nominee that is committed to advocating for all the nation’s working families — not someone who spent decades representing corporate special interests against workers whose rights had been violated.

The Senate will soon consider: Can Eugene Scalia be trusted to carry out his responsibility as Labor Secretary to enforce the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as someone who repeatedly defended corporations accused of firing workers for taking leave? Would Scalia uphold overtime law after defending a major car manufacturer that allegedly denied women equal access to overtime shifts and another company accused of illegally denying overtime wages? Would Scalia enforce minimum wage laws as someone who publicly derided President Obama for proposing even a modest increase in the minimum wage for federal workers?

Would Scalia take workplace safety seriously after arguing that government does not have “the sole-or even primary-role in furthering occupational safety and health” and after trashing a federal safety inspection program as “coercion”? Would Scalia follow his duty protect workers’ retirement funds from employer misuse after representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in its challenge of the U.S. Labor Department’s Fiduciary Rule, the Obama-era consumer protection that required financial advisers and their firms provide retirement investment advice that is in their clients’ best interests? Could Scalia be counted on to hold federal contractors accountable if they engage in disability discrimination after he defended a package delivery company in a class action lawsuit accusing them of just that?

“Senators should ask themselves: can someone who has spent decades trying to undermine the mission of the Labor Department suddenly come to respect and follow it? Working families shouldn’t hold their breath,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Allied Progress. “Eugene Scalia’s corporate client list is a mile-long, but his record advocating for everyday workers is as thin as a pink slip. This is someone who reflexively believes CEOs are always right and their employees are always in the wrong when there are allegations of harm at the workplace.”

Added Funk: “President Trump’s choice of Scalia for the DOL is more proof he has no interest in a functional government that works for all people. Once again, Trump wants to put a known enemy of a federal agency in charge of it, following Scott Pruitt’s corruption-oozing stint at the EPA and Mick Mulvaney’s tornadic turn at the CFPB. It’s not hard to imagine Scalia using his power to throw out the rules that hold his former corporate clients in check. Because it’s what he’s been trying to do his entire career. Senators should not wait to reject his nomination.” 

PREVIOUSLY FROM ALLIED PROGRESS: 

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