Party-line Senate panel vote OKs Scalia for Labor Department
Democratic Sen. Pat Murray says Eugene Scalia will be a fitting Secretary of Corporate Interests, not a Secretary of Labor. | Cliff Owens/AP

WASHINGTON—Talk about greasing the skids for a Trumpite: The GOP-run Senate committee that deals with workers’ issues OKd Donald Trump’s nomination of right-wing corporate lawyer Eugene Scalia by a 12-11 party-line vote on Sept. 24 – and he might be in the Secretary’s chair by the end of the week.

The lickety-split confirmation process for Scalia, son of the late right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justice, came over strenuous objections from both the panel’s Democrats and workers and their allies.

“We’ve seen this awful nominee for the Secretary of Labor’s job who spent his career busting unions,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told a nearby outdoor rally of workers protesting Trump’s edicts against federal workers and their unions.

But corporate interests from A to Z supported Scalia, who previously made a name for himself by leading business lobbying to kill the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s ergonomic rules and for defending a corporation, Seaworld, whose killer whale drowned its female trainer, among other “achievements.”

And Scalia was also Walmart’s lawyer when the monster vicious anti-worker retailer sued to overturn a Maryland law a decade ago saying that any firm with more than 10,000 workers in the state had to devote at least 8% of payroll to health insurance for its workers. Two of the only three – including unionized Safeway stores – did so. Walmart didn’t. Scalia and Walmart won in court.

All that, and GOP kowtowing to Trump, led Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., to declare the full Senate will vote on Scalia by Sept. 27. The committee’s vote came only a week after the panel’s confirmation hearing on the nod.

“Last week’s hearing confirmed my worst fears,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the panel’s top Democrat. “Scalia will be a yes-man for President Trump’s anti-worker agenda, not a champion for working families, that he will let companies off the hook, not hold them accountable, that if confirmed, he will be a Secretary of Corporate Interests, not a Secretary of Labor.”

Scalia “dodged seemingly every opportunity to take a strong stand as a champion for the workers and families the Department of Labor serves,” she added. But “he didn’t shy away from defending his record helping corporate clients hack away at the rules meant to protect workers and families or hesitate to praise President Trump and the so-called ‘virtually unprecedented benefits’ workers are seeing under this Administration’s anti-worker agenda.”

“He has fought against workers seeking the wages they were cheated out of, people with disabilities seeking a job opportunity, employees seeking a safer work environment, families seeking reliable advice as they plan for retirement, and even survivors seeking justice for workplace harassment and assault. In other words, the very people we need the Secretary of Labor to fight for.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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