National Consumers League

The National Consumers League statement on Senate confirmation of Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor

September 30, 2019

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) issued this statement in response to the Senate’s 53-44 vote last week to confirm Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor.

The National Consumers League (NCL) is disappointed by the Senate’s confirmation this week of Eugene Scalia as Secretary of Labor. The Labor Secretary should be a champion of the working women and men. The National Consumers League is proud that this nation’s first female cabinet member and Secretary of Labor – Frances Perkins - began her professional career representing NCL in New York and was a witness to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City in 2011, which led to her focus on fire codes and safety reforms in the workplace. As Perkins once said: “I came to Washington to work for God, FDR, and the millions of forgotten, plain common workingmen.”

Instead of being a champion for workers, Scalia has devoted his legal career to defending corporate interests:

  • He criticized a Clinton-era rule to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries that was repealed early in the Bush administration
  • He defended Boeing from a labor union lawsuit
  • He fought on behalf of Wal-Mart against a Maryland law aimed at improving workers’ health care.
  • He represented Wal-Mart Secretaries of Labor – to understand the plight of workers, advocate for better pay, working conditions, benefits and safety.
  • He represented the Chamber of Commerce opposing rules requiring mutual fund companies to put independent overseers on their boards of directors, and insurance companies challenging the SEC’s authority to regulate certain annuities with values tied to stocks

As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has noted: “It is insulting and dangerous that lifelong union-buster Eugene Scalia is the country’s top labor official. His track record is well documented, and it’s clear he has yet to find a worker protection he supports or a corporate loophole he opposes. Making the Labor Department—whose mission is to defend the rights of workers and enforce the law—a satellite office of a corporate right-wing law firm flies in the face of working people’s clearly expressed desires.” 

As Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, noted about Scalia:  “The last thing working people need is another Secretary of Labor who sides with corporate CEOs instead of hard-working Americans and makes it harder to join together in unions.”

NCL, which works with DOL on a range of issues, urges the new DOL Secretary to reconsider his inclination to support corporations over the interests of working families and balance these interests with a focus on the impact on workers.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.