WASHINGTON — President Trump’s new nominee for Labor secretary got a cautiously positive reaction from one of the unions at the forefront of the effort to bring down the nomination of Andrew Puzder, the Carl’s Jr. boss who withdrew the day before his Senate hearing in the face of withering GOP support.
Trump today’s nominated Alexander Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law, a former U.S. Attorney, and a George W. Bush appointee to the National Labor Relations Board.
Acosta, a Harvard Law grad, was also assistant attorney general for civil rights under Bush.
Trump began a marathon East Room press conference by noting that his new nominee “has been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed; did very, very well.”
“And so, Alex, I’ve wished him the best. We just spoke. And he’s going to be — I think he’ll be a tremendous secretary of Labor,” Trump added.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) echoed the feeling that the nomination “is off to a good start” because of Acosta’s previous Senate history. At least four Republicans had indicated they didn’t plan on voting for Puzder, dooming the nod.
“He has an impressive work and academic background,” Alexander said. “We will schedule a hearing promptly after his nomination papers arrive in the Senate, and I look forward to exploring his views on how American workers can best adjust to the rapidly changing workplace.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said Acosta’s experience “proves that he knows how to fairly and equitably represent all American values.”
“As a U.S. Attorney, he fought tirelessly to protect Americans and uphold the law,” Isakson added. “His qualifications to be secretary of Labor are strong.”
AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka, still on a victory lap after Puzder dropped out, stressed in a statement that “working people changed the game on this nomination.”
“Unlike Andy Puzder, Alexander Acosta’s nomination deserves serious consideration. In one day, we’ve gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it,” Trumka said, promising to “of course review Mr. Acosta’s record as thoroughly as we did the previous nominee’s.”
“Mr. Acosta will have to answer tough questions and explain how he will enforce and uphold labor laws to benefit working people and not further tilt the balance of power toward corporate CEOs,” he said. “The Labor secretary is not just another cabinet member – his or her actions directly impact our wages, safety and rights on the job every single day. We will judge this nominee by the commitment he shows to making life better for working people.”
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry vowed “workers will stay in the streets to demand a Labor secretary who is a champion for working people and fights to represent their interests in our economy.”
“In the coming days and weeks, workers will find out more about how Alexander Acosta will ensure working people have pathways to good jobs on which they can raise their families, and a real voice impacting the decisions that affect them at work, in their communities, and in the economy and democracy,” Henry said. “We will hold Mr. Acosta to the same high standards the American public rightfully expects of our nation’s Labor secretary: to advance the interests and needs of wage earners in our economy.”