09.19.19

Murray On Secretary of Labor Nominee Eugene Scalia: “President Trump Has Nominated a Secretary of Corporate Interests”

Murray: “Instead of nominating a Secretary of Labor, President Trump has nominated a Secretary of Corporate Interests.”

 

Murray highlights Scalia’s long, troubling record attacking workers’ rights and protecting corporations

 

Scalia has fought to overturn and undermine laws protecting workers’ health and safety, protecting their retirement savings, protecting their wages, and protecting workers with disabilities from discrimination

 

Scalia has worked to help corporate clients avoid accountability for stealing employees’ tips and not paying overtime

 

In a workplace harassment case, Scalia argued survivors should have their claims thrown out simply because they didn’t mention them when going through bankruptcy—fortunately, the judge disagreed           

 

Murray: “If there’s one consistent pattern in Mr. Scalia’s long career—it’s hostility to the very workers he would be charged with protecting, and the very laws he would be charged with enforcing if he were confirmed.”

 

***Watch Senator Murray’s opening statement HERE***

 

Washington, D.C. – At today’s confirmation hearing, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), questioned Eugene Scalia, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor, on his long and troubling history of trampling on workers’ rights and defending corporations.

 

Senator Murray expressed her concern that Scalia would be a “Secretary of Corporate Interests,” given his long record as an elite corporate lawyer, including his crusade against a rule for workers’ health and safety, his attacks on the landmark protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act, his efforts to help companies get off the hook for workplace harassment, his lawsuit to strike down a crucial rule protecting workers’ retirement savings, and more. As Senator Murray grilled Mr. Scalia he refused to reject the Trump Administration’s anti-worker agenda and avoided expressing support for legislation to raise the minimum wage, close the pay gap, and address the epidemic of workplace harassment.

 

Senator Murray also criticized the rushed confirmation process, and urged Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to move the committee vote, currently scheduled for Tuesday, September 24th, to ensure that committee members have enough time to review Scalia’s lengthy and concerning record.

 

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s opening statement:

 

“I’d like to start by expressing my frustration with this rushed process. I have asked repeatedly to delay this confirmation hearing, because I believe every nominee’s background should be reviewed carefully and thoroughly—especially for a role this important…Workers and families across the country are counting on us to take our vetting responsibility seriously—especially since President Trump clearly won’t.”

 

“From rolling back a rule ensuring workers receive overtime pay, to blocking Democrats’ efforts to raise the minimum wage and ensure equal pay, to seizing every opportunity to undermine workers’ rights to organize and join a union to advocate for higher pay, better benefits, a safer workplace, and a secure retirement, The Trump Administration has consistently sided with corporations over workers.

“Now, instead of nominating someone who understands the challenges working people face and will fight for them, President Trump has chosen a powerful corporate lawyer who has devoted his career to protecting big corporations and CEOs from accountability, and attacking workers’ rights, protections, and economic security.

 

“Instead of nominating a Secretary of Labor, President Trump has nominated a Secretary of Corporate Interests.

 

“If there’s one consistent pattern in Mr. Scalia’s long career—it’s hostility to the very workers he would be charged with protecting, and the very laws he would be charged with enforcing if he were confirmed.

 

“Mr. Scalia’s nomination offers a straightforward test for each of us. If you care about workers and families—his record is absolutely disqualifying for a Secretary of Labor. But, if like President Trump, you want someone who will run up the scoreboard for corporations and billionaires at the expense of working families—Mr. Scalia’s anti-worker record is exactly what you’re looking for.”

 

“People are getting more and more tired of President Trump’s anti-worker agenda. And the last thing they want to see from this Administration is one more person using their power to look out for those at the very top and nobody else.

 

“So I hope every Republican who claims to care about working families watches this hearing closely, looks at Mr. Scalia’s record thoroughly, and thinks long and hard about whether the workers they represent really want them to fight for someone who will not fight for them.

 

Watch Senator Murray’s opening statement HERE.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Chao, it is good to see you. Thank you for joining us to introduce the nominee. Mr. Scalia, I appreciate you and your family being here today— and I look forward to you introducing your family to the committee.

 

“Mr. Chairman, I’d like to start by expressing my frustration with this rushed process. I have asked repeatedly to delay this confirmation hearing, because I believe every nominee’s background should be reviewed carefully and thoroughly—especially for a role this important. Moving from formal nomination to confirmation in less than two weeks—as we have in this case—is deeply concerning. Members have not been given enough time to review Mr. Scalia’s background, and I repeatedly asked for more time. And in fact we did not get answers to follow up questions until late last night. So I want to be clear that I do not consider this nominee’s vet complete or sufficient.

 

“Mr. Scalia, I will be continuing to ask questions and gather information about your record, and I expect thorough answers. 

 

“There is currently a markup scheduled for next Tuesday, the 24th.  I urge the Chairman to move the mark-up so everyone has more time to consider this nominee’s long record.

 

“Workers and families across the country are counting on us to take our vetting responsibility seriously—especially since President Trump clearly won’t.

 

“His first nominee was a millionaire fast food CEO, who disparaged his own workers and was forced to withdraw from consideration.

 

“His second pick served as a yes man for an anti-worker agenda before resigning in disgrace as the country scrutinized his decision to give a sexual predator the deal of a lifetime.

 

“President Trump’s third pick, Eugene Scalia, is an elite corporate lawyer who has spent his career fighting for corporations and against workers.

 

“I opposed Mr. Scalia’s nomination to the Department of Labor back in 2001, and 18 years later, his record defending corporations as they trample workers’ rights has only gotten longer.

 

“Meanwhile, the need for someone who will stand up for workers and families, and stand up to President Trump on their behalf, has only become more urgent.

  

“Because we have seen time and time again that President Trump won’t hesitate to throw working families under the bus to help corporations, billionaires, and the powerfully connected, get even further ahead.

 

“Like when he worked with Republicans to jam through a one and a half trillion tax giveaway for corporations and the wealthy—a move some Republicans now want to pay for by cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

 

“From rolling back a rule ensuring workers receive overtime pay, to blocking Democrats’ efforts to raise the minimum wage and ensure equal pay, to seizing every opportunity to undermine workers’ rights to organize and join a union to advocate for higher pay, better benefits, a safer workplace, and a secure retirement—the Trump Administration has consistently sided with corporations over workers.

 

“Now, instead of nominating someone who understands the challenges working people face and will fight for them, President Trump has chosen a powerful corporate lawyer who has devoted his career to protecting big corporations and CEOs from accountability, and attacking workers’ rights, protections, and economic security.

 

“Instead of nominating a Secretary of Labor, President Trump has nominated a Secretary of Corporate Interests.

 

“If there’s one consistent pattern in Mr. Scalia’s long career—it’s hostility to the very workers he would be charged with protecting, and the very laws he would be charged with enforcing if he were confirmed.

 

“Like when he threw billions of dollars of workers’ retirement savings into jeopardy by suing to strike down the Department’s fiduciary rule. This commonsense rule protected workers’ retirement savings by requiring financial advisers to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own.

 

“And Mr. Scalia has made a career out of striking down laws like this that protect people, from his work for big businesses looking to hack away at the safeguards and protections meant to avoid another economic crash, to fighting against protections for workers’ health and safety.

 

“When the Department was working on a rule requiring employers to make accommodations to help prevent and address one of the most common workplace injuries—repetitive stress injuries, Mr. Scalia callously dismissed the health concerns of hundreds of thousands of workers as ‘junk science,’ and crusaded on behalf of his corporate clients to undermine and eventually overturn the rule.

 

“He hasn’t just fought against rules to protect workers’ safety, but also those to protect workers’ wages from being stolen by employers.

 

“Democrats have been pushing to raise the minimum wage to $15, end the lower wage for tipped workers and workers with disabilities, close the pay gap, and make sure workers aren’t cheated out of their hard earned pay—but Republicans continue to block our efforts to pay workers more.

 

“So we need a Secretary who cares about giving workers a raise. Not one who criticized President Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts. Not one who fought to help corporate clients steal employees’ tips, and get out of paying overtime wages.

 

“And we need someone who will hold companies accountable, not let them off the hook at every opportunity.

 

“The last time Mr. Scalia served in the Department of Labor, he restricted protections that prevent retaliation against whistleblowers so severely, he garnered bipartisan criticism for being openly hostile to whistleblowers.

 

“When it comes to accountability for discrimination—Mr. Scalia’s record is equally unacceptable. In one case, he defended a company that discriminated against a job applicant because of her hairstyle. In another—which Mr. Scalia has previously named one of the most important issues he’s worked on—he argued employers should be able to discriminate against people with disabilities based on perceptions about what they can do, and successfully undermined the landmark protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“And when it comes to accountability for workplace harassment—Mr. Scalia’s record just gets worse. While our nation is grappling with this epidemic, Mr. Scalia is working to help get businesses off the hook.

 

“Thirty women have been fighting to hold Ford accountable for sexual harassment and assault they allege they experienced in the workplace—everything from unwanted touching to assault. Mr. Scalia has been fighting to get their case thrown out of court. He argued some of the survivors should have their claims dismissed because they failed to note the lawsuit during bankruptcy proceedings.

 

“Our nation needs a Secretary of Labor who will prioritize addressing the epidemic of workplace harassment—not someone who thinks the bar for what qualifies as harassment should be higher, or that the standard of accountability should be lower.

 

“And these are all just a few examples of the larger, alarming pattern of Mr. Scalia’s career.

 

“Mr. Scalia’s nomination offers a straightforward test for each of us.

 

“If you care about workers and families—his record is absolutely disqualifying for a Secretary of Labor.

 

“But, if like President Trump, you want someone who will run up the scoreboard for corporations and billionaires at the expense of working families—Mr. Scalia’s anti-worker record is exactly what you’re looking for.

 

“People are getting more and more tired of President Trump’s anti-worker agenda. And the last thing they want to see from this Administration is one more person using their power to look out for those at the very top and nobody else.

 

“So I hope every Republican who claims to care about working families watches this hearing closely, looks at Mr. Scalia’s record thoroughly, and thinks long and hard about whether the workers they represent really want them to fight for someone who will not fight for them.

 

“Thank you.”

 

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