04.11.18

Senator Murray Strongly Opposes Former Sweatshop Lobbyist for Number Two Spot at Labor Department

Speaking from Senate floor, Murray strongly denounced Patrick Pizzella’s nomination to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor

 

Senator Murray: “With this nomination, President Trump is once again breaking his promise to put workers first.”

 

Nominee worked with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to block worker protections in U.S. territory

 

Senator Murray: “It would be irresponsible to put a man with such a strong track record of anti-worker convictions a tweet away from leading the Department of Labor.”

 

***WATCH SEN. MURRAY’S SPEECH HERE***

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate floor outlining her serious concerns with, and strong opposition to, the nomination of Patrick Pizzella to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor.

 

Senator Murray called attention to Pizzella’s record working with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to shepherd dozens of high ranking Republicans on all expense paid trips to the Mariana Islands in an effort to block new worker protections and allow companies on the Northern Mariana Islands—a U.S. territory—to operate under sweatshop conditions. She went on to note Pizzella’s long record of hardline anti-worker positions and to express concern that he would be next in line to lead the Department of Labor, the agency responsible for the welfare of workers and retirees.

 

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s speech:

 

“With this nomination, President Trump is once again breaking his promise to put workers first. Mr. Pizzella has a record that is, time and again, at odds with the goals of the very Department he would help lead as Deputy Secretary. His track record is one of not merely failing workers, but of failing to enforce laws to protect the health and safety of workers; seeking to diminishing workers’ rights and protections; and of undermining the unions that represent and fight for them.”


“While Congress was looking at taking action to change the law to better protect workers, Pizzella was working with Abramoff to coordinate all expense paid trips for dozens of Republican lawmakers and staff and seeking to maintain the sweatshop status quo. Patrick Pizzella chose not to fight for workers, but for corporations. These efforts aren’t just counter to the mission of the Department of Labor, they are counter to our national values. And the rest of Mr. Pizzella’s record shows he has taken equally extreme positions throughout his career.”

 

“It would be irresponsible to put a man with such a strong track record of anti-worker convictions a tweet away from leading the Department of Labor. It is unconscionable that someone with Mr. Pizzella’s background would be the number two leader at the Department of Labor. It is unacceptable that he could be in line to serve as Acting Secretary should Secretary Acosta leave the Department.”

 

Video of Sen. Murray’s speech available HERE.

 

Full text below of Sen. Murray’s speech:

 

“Thank you M. President.

 

“I come to the floor today to oppose, in the strongest terms, the nomination of Patrick Pizzella as Deputy Secretary of Labor.

 

“With this nomination, President Trump is once again breaking his promise to put workers first. Mr. Pizzella has a record that is, time and again, at odds with the goals of the very Department he would help lead as Deputy Secretary. His track record is one of not merely failing workers, but of failing to enforce laws to protect the health and safety of workers; seeking to diminishing workers’ rights and protections; and of undermining the unions that represent and fight for them.

 

“In fact, his record includes working with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff on behalf of causes that are counter to the mission of the Department of Labor.  

 

“In the 90s, Congress was moving to expand labor and immigration protections to the Northern Mariana Islands—a U.S. territory—to end the operation of sweatshops that did not follow federal labor laws. The law at the time let companies bring in foreign workers to toil under inhumane conditions. The workers were underpaid, forced to sign contracts signing away their rights to protest labor conditions, and some were even coerced to have abortions. And the companies operating under these inhumane conditions were able to print the words “Made in the USA” on their products.

 

“While Congress was looking at taking action to change the law to better protect workers, Pizzella was working with Abramoff to coordinate all expense paid trips for dozens of Republican lawmakers and staff and seeking to maintain the sweatshop status quo. Patrick Pizzella chose not to fight for workers, but for corporations.

 

“These efforts aren’t just counter to the mission of the Department of Labor, they are counter to our national values.  

 

“And the rest of Mr. Pizzella’s record shows he has taken equally extreme positions throughout his career. Take, for example, his radical record as the sole employee of the Conservative Action Project, a far-right group funded by billionaire donors, like the DeVos family.

 

“Or his record when he last served in the Department of Labor. Under his leadership, the Department of Labor cut its budget in part by cutting down its own employees’ collective bargaining rights and decreasing official time.

 

“Then there’s his long record championing anti-union policies and arguing to limit collective bargaining rights.

 

“And at the Federal Labor Relations Authority, Pizzella not only ruled consistently against workers and unions, he repeatedly broke with longstanding policy by calling out the names of individual workers in his decisions. He chose to call out defendants by name, and put them in the public spotlight.

 

“And the pattern of Mr. Pizzella’s anti-worker ideology is clearly unchanged today. Throughout his career, Mr. Pizzella’s record has been alarmingly consistent. From his years serving as a right hand to Jack Abramoff until now, he has shown that he is not going to fight for workers, but against them.

 

“It would be irresponsible to put a man with such a strong track record of anti-worker convictions a tweet away from leading the Department of Labor. It is unconscionable that someone with Mr. Pizzella’s background would be the number two leader at the Department of Labor. It is unacceptable that he could be in line to serve as Acting Secretary should Secretary Acosta leave the Department.

 

“I strongly oppose Patrick Pizzella’s nomination. I will be voting against him, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.

 

“Thank you.”

 

###