The consensus is that Alexander Acosta is a less horrible choice for Secretary of Labor than Andy Puzder. But that doesn’t mean he is good:
Even though Acosta is a more mainline conservative than Puzder, labor groups have a lot of policy concerns. Obama’s Labor Department pushed through a number of policies, including executive orders that used the federal government’s contracting power to elevate wages and increase labor protections for federal contract workers, rules that doubled the salary threshold that qualifies workers for overtime pay, and required retirement advisers to act in their clients’ best interests.
The department also sought to address employee misclassification, increase corporate responsibility for franchisees and independent contractors, and aggressively pursue labor law violations in sectors with vulnerable low-wage workers. Republicans and their allies in the business community have been gunning to wipe away that work from the get-go. With Puzder’s nomination, Obama labor alums were concerned that a GOP Labor Department would succeed in doing so. Republicans are hoping that Acosta will be equally dedicated to rolling back Obama’s labor legacy. As Bloomberg BNA reports, conservatives further hope that a Republican DOL will go on offense to scrutinize the legality of labor union affiliates like the Fight for $15 and the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, both of which actively lobbied against Puzder’s nomination.
As more information emerges on Acosta, don’t count on unions and other progressive groups to take his confirmation lying down. They still see the labor secretary confirmation as an important opportunity to hold Trump to his campaign promise to be a president for working Americans. “Together, workers will stay in the streets to demand a labor secretary who is a champion for working people and fights to represent their interests in our economy,” Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement.
With Republicans wanting a national right-to-leech law very, very badly, Acosta being less egregiously awful than Puzder may not matter too much in the end, although this certainly would not pass a Senate filibuster if it still exists. In any case, it’s going to be a long, bad 4 years for American workers.