05.27.21

HELP Chair Murray Urges Confirmation for Labor Nominees

Senator Murray highlights clear qualifications of Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy nominee Raj Nayak, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy nominee Taryn Mackenzie Williams, and OSHA nominee Doug Parker

Senator Murray continues to push for an OSHA emergency temporary standard, to protect workers from COVID

Murray: “We need committed, qualified leaders working with us at the Department of Labor … We need people like Mr. Nayak, Ms. Williams, and Mr. Parker.”

***WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING REMARKS HERE***

Washington, D.C. – Today, during a hearing, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues to support the nominations of Raj Nayak, to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, Taryn Mackenzie Williams, to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, and Doug Parker, to serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. Senator Murray highlighted the importance of confirming experienced leaders at the Department of Labor (DOL) to ensure that workers are safe on the job, support pathways to employment for workers with disabilities, and build back a stronger and fairer economy for all workers.

 “If we are going to end this pandemic, and build back stronger and fairer from the most unequal economic crisis in recent history, we have to address the problems COVID put a glaring spotlight on and the inequities it has made worse—like job loss that has disproportionately hurt women,  workers of color, workers with disabilities, and workers paid low wages,” Senator Murray said in her opening remarks. “We have a long list of big challenges ahead. To tackle those challenges, we need committed, qualified leaders working with us at the Department of Labor.”

 Given the risks the pandemic continues to pose for workers across the country, Senator Murray also continued to stress the importance of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emergency temporary standard to protect workers on the job and ensure safe workplaces.

 It continues to be so critical that OSHA issue an emergency temporary standard to protect all workers—especially frontline workers—from COVID-19,” continued Senator Murray. “An OSHA ETS is long overdue, and remains very necessary for the tens of millions of workers still at risk. And I urge the Administration to act now, and issue a standard to ensure all workers are safe in their workplaces. It is a goal we all share, and it is clear the nominees before us share it as well.

 During her opening remarks, Senator Murray also highlighted each nominee’s clear qualifications—including Raj Nayak’s long record as a champion for workers including as a senior advisor at the DOL, Taryn Mackenzie Williams’s years of service at the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) fighting for workers with disabilities, and Doug Parker’s service as Chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, where he worked to protect workers in California throughout the pandemic.

 “Given their clear qualifications, and the critical work at hand, I’m pleased to support each of these nominees. And I hope after today’s hearing my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work with me to get them quickly confirmed in a bipartisan way,” said Senator Murray.

 Senator Murray’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

 “If we are going to end this pandemic, and build back stronger and fairer from the most unequal economic crisis in recent history, we have to address the problems COVID put a glaring spotlight on and the inequities it has made worse—like job loss that has disproportionately hurt women, workers of color, workers with disabilities, and workers paid low wages.

“We have to raise the federal minimum wage, and eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers, youth workers, and workers with disabilities.

 “We have to make sure every worker has paid leave and quality, affordable child care and no worker has to choose between their family or their health, and their paycheck.

 “We have to eliminate bias and discrimination and ensure all workers get fair pay, equal opportunities, and the accommodations they need in the workplace.

“We also have to make sure workplaces are safe—and not just against pandemics but free from unsafe working conditions, environmental hazards, and sexual harassment and assault.

 “And we need to protect, and strengthen, the right to form or join a union and collectively bargain for better working conditions, wages, and benefits.

 “In short: we have a long list of big challenges ahead.

“To tackle those challenges, we need committed, qualified leaders working with us at the Department of Labor.

 “Leaders who understand our economy is working great for those at the top—but not so well for everyone else and who will do everything they can to change that.

 “We need people like Mr. Nayak, Ms. Williams, and Mr. Parker.

 “Mr. Nayak is currently a senior advisor at the Department, and has previously served in the Solicitor’s office, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, and as Deputy Chief of Staff.

 “In those various roles, he has worked on a broad portfolio, including workforce development, worker protection, counter-trafficking, overtime pay, health and safety, retirement security, and more.

“He has also worked twice at the National Employment Law Project, including most recently as Deputy CEO. As an advocate and a policymaker, he has shown time and again his commitment to empowering workers, supporting families, and advancing equity.

 “And I have no doubt that if confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Policy he will do just that.

 “Ms. Williams, is a similarly excellent choice for the role of Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy.

“Ms. Williams is a champion for people with disabilities… A reputation she has earned through her years of service at the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy—where she led agency efforts to build pathways to competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities, at the White House—where she served as a liaison to the disability community, at the Center for American Progress—where she led CAP’s efforts to build anti-poverty programs, and even here on the HELP Committee—where she worked for Chair Harkin.

“When Ms. Williams testified before this Committee about health inequities and the COVID-19 response a few months ago, her knowledge as an expert, and passion as an advocate for people with disabilities—qualities which make her so well suited to the role she has been nominated for—were on clear display.

 “Finally, we have Mr. Parker, who has worked to protect workers in his state throughout this pandemic as Chief of California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, starting with his move to swiftly issue health guidance back in February of 2020, when there were only 13 cases of COVID-19 in the country.

 “But his record fighting for workers’ wellbeing, goes well beyond this pandemic. He has spent his career fighting for worker safety as an  attorney for the United Mine Workers, a senior official at the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration during one of the best streaks of safety in the industry’s history, and the executive director of Worksafe, a workplace safety advocacy organization.

 “Mr. Parker is an extremely well-qualified nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary of Occupational Safety and Health. And I look forward to working with him to protect workers—especially considering the dangers this pandemic continues to pose. 

“Which is why it continues to be so critical that OSHA issue an emergency temporary standard to protect all workers—especially frontline workers—from COVID-19.  An OSHA ETS is long overdue, and remains very necessary for the tens of millions of workers still at risk. And I urge the Administration to act now, and issue a standard to ensure all workers are safe in their workplaces.

“It is a goal we all share, and it is clear the nominees before us share it as well.

 “Given their excellent qualifications, and the critical work at hand, I’m pleased to support each of these nominees.

 “I hope after today’s hearing my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will work with me to get them quickly confirmed in a bipartisan way.

“I look forward to hearing from each of you about how we can make our economy truly work for working families in Washington state, North Carolina, and across the country.

“And now, before I turn it over to Ranking Member Burr for his opening remarks, I seek unanimous consent to put in the record 1 letter in support of Mr. Nayak’s nomination and 1 letter in support of Mr. Parker’s nomination.”

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