Reprinted from The Economic Policy Institute by Marni von Wilpert on March 15, 2017.
Next week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions holds its hearing on the nomination of Alexander Acosta to be secretary of labor. While Acosta has had several confirmation hearings in the past, and is expected to do well next week, it is important that he receive a thorough and tough vetting. In the context of an administration that has shown itself to be remarkably anti-worker, it’s more important than ever that the labor secretary be prepared to enforce our labor laws and advocate for all working people.
Senators should ask Acosta specifically about his views on labor and employment laws as they pertain to undocumented workers. For example, it’s been reported that a spate of raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have left undocumented workers—who are already easily exploited—unwilling to report wage theft and labor violations. Now more than ever, we need a labor secretary who will argue for a fair economy and a labor market that works for all workers.
As a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Acosta once voiced his adamant belief that undocumented workers deserve the protection of our country’s labor laws. In Double D Construction Group, 339 NLRB No. 48 (2003), the board found the company’s owner had unlawfully terminated an employee, Thomas Sanchez, for his participation in union activity. Not only did Acosta join the board majority overruling the judge’s contrary finding, Acosta wrote a separate concurrence chastising the judge, who had discredited Sanchez’s testimony at the trial on the ground that Sanchez had once knowingly used a false Social Security number to obtain employment. The administrative law judge reasoned: “If Sanchez demonstrated a willingness to use a false government document to obtain work… he may also be willing to offer false testimony” at the trial. …