US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander Opposes Obama Nominee to Lead Wage and Hour Division at Labor Department

Says Dr. David Weil has advocated expanding current law beyond what Congress intended

Monday, April 28, 2014Liz Wolgemuth 202-224-8584

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“In his new book, Dr. Weil suggests the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division—the division he is nominated to lead—could look for ways to expand its current interpretations of labor law and should target employers who use certain business models.” –Lamar Alexander

 

Washington, D.C., April 28 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate labor committee, today opposed President Obama’s nomination of Dr. David Weil to run the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

“To fill this position, we need someone who can be trusted by both employees and employers to enforce the law without bias; and we need a qualified manager. Unfortunately, I think Dr. Weil fails to meet that standard,” Alexander said.

He added: “I cannot support a nominee who has advocated expanding current law beyond what Congress intended. Nor could I support a nominee who is a proponent of targeting industries and employers who use certain business models rather than being responsive to complaints of breaches of the law.  Or one that has the underlying goal of increasing unionization, without regard to the desires of employees themselves.”

In remarks submitted for the record, Alexander said Weil had recently published a book, “The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It,” which raises questions about Weil’s ability to be a neutral arbiter of the law and impartial in carrying out the duties of his office.

“In this book, he suggests the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division—the division he is nominated to lead—could look for ways to expand its current interpretations of labor law and should target employers who use certain business models,” Alexander said.

In his book, Weil implies that current labor laws and traditional regulatory enforcement allow companies such as Marriott, Time Warner, Bank of America, Walmart, Hershey, AT&T, Verizon, Subway, Hyatt, Apple, and FedEx to “have their cake and eat it too,” because they use common business models such as subcontracting and supply chains, and therefore, can push liability for compliance with workplace statutes off to other entities that are in their business model. 

He also says that companies use these business models “to avoid unionization,” and emphasizes the ability of regulatory agencies to pressure these companies into enterprise-wide settlement agreements, Alexander said.

“Dr. Weil’s writings suggest he may have a bull’s eye on industries that use subcontracting and franchising,” Alexander said.

The Wage and Hour Division has not had a confirmed Administrator since the Bush Administration—President Obama has nominated two individuals to this position, both of whom voluntarily withdrew before any HELP Committee votes were scheduled.  The last nominee withdrew his nomination in August of 2011 – a full 32 months ago. 

“After waiting this long, we need to get this right,” Alexander said.

Alexander also voted against moving Dr. Weil’s nomination out of committee.

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