Statement | Perkins Project

News from EPI Will Alexander Acosta work for working people?

On Wednesday, Alexander Acosta is scheduled to have his hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). It is crucial that Acosta’s record be given a thorough vetting, and that senators can ascertain whether or not he will be a strong advocate for the rights and safety of working people.

I am heartened by Acosta’s record of supporting legal protections for undocumented workers. Acosta should commit to maintaining this principled stance, even while serving for a president who has demonstrated hostility towards immigrants.

Acosta must also commit to maintaining the high quality data that are necessary for the public to keep tabs on trends in the workforce, health and safety, and violations of wage and hour protections. It has not gone unnoticed that DOL has stopped releasing information on wage and hour enforcement actions. These critically important data provide a roadmap for effective enforcement strategies and helps ensure that the department’s limited resources are directed effectively. Acosta should commit to protecting the integrity of DOL data, regularly releasing information on wage and hour violations, and ensuring the department acts in a transparent manner.

It is concerning that so many Trump administration cabinet secretaries appear opposed to the mission of the agencies they lead. Senators must demand that Acosta commit to upholding the Labor Department’s mission of—as described in the Trump administration’s recent budget document—fostering “welfare of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees by safeguarding their working conditions, benefits, and wages.” Will Acosta support commonsense policies like making it illegal for financial professions to recommend higher-cost investment products that provide them with a higher commission but provide lower returns to their clients? Will he support raising the minimum wage, eliminating the tipped minimum wage, and strengthening overtime rules? Will he vigorously enforce labor laws, or will he turn a blind eye as employers break the rules? The workers, retirees, and job seekers of America deserve a Secretary of Labor who is truly committed to their welfare.

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