Who Will Be Trump’s Labor Secretary?

By Dana Wilkie Dec 6, 2016

​President-elect Donald Trump said last week that he will announce "almost all" of his cabinet this week, which could include the nation's new labor secretary. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces rules that protect the nation's workers, distributes benefits to the unemployed and publishes economic data like the monthly jobs report. The new secretary will be in charge of keeping Trump's promise to dismantle many rules from President Obama's administration that cover the vast workforce of federal contractors. Below are some of the possible candidates.

Lou Barletta

The Washington Post calls Rep. Lou Barletta—the conservative Republican congressman whose Pennsylvania district has long been a focal point in the national immigration debate—an "immigration hardliner." As mayor of Hazleton, Pa., he led a crackdown on immigrants who were in the country illegally and businesses that hired them, and pushed to make English the town's official language.

 (The Washington Post)


Peter Kirsanow

Peter Kirsanow, a former National Labor Relations Board member under President George W. Bush, is a conservative attorney who represents the management side in labor-management disputes. He has been a critic of unauthorized immigration and liberal views on civil rights.

(The Cleveland Plain Dealer)


Victoria Lipnic

Victoria Lipnic is one of two Republican commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Lipnic served as the assistant secretary of labor under George W. Bush before Obama appointed her to the EEOC in 2010. According to The Atlantic, she "in some ways represents a more moderate choice for labor secretary … and has experience in both the private sector (as an attorney) and public sector. Her voting record as an EEOC commissioner sometimes crosses party lines, but is largely indicative of a preference for less regulation."

(The Atlantic)

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Andrew Puzder

The leading candidate for Labor secretary is said to be Andrew Puzder, chief executive of CKE Restaurants. CKE owns the Carl's Jr. restaurant chain. Puzder, who served as one of Trump's economic advisers, is a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage and of the Affordable Care Act, arguing that the policies result in lower employment rates. He has also said that fast-food workers could be replaced with kiosks and other automated technology to offset the cost of wages.

(Business Insider)


Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), is the highest-ranking woman in the House of Representatives. She has been mentioned as a possible pick for interior secretary as well as labor secretary. She criticized Trump after the release of a 2005 video that recorded him bragging about sexually assaulting women, but continued to back him, saying that "he's going to shake it up, and that needs to happen."

(The Spokesman-Review)


Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would undertake many changes as labor secretary, reports The Federalist. He advocates a pro-worker labor reform platform, elimination of the National Labor Relations Board, allowing workers to negotiate contracts non-collectively, and allowing secret ballots for workers to approve strikes, rather than the open voting that he says can bring on union intimidation. Some news reports, however, indicate that Walker is not interested in the position.

(The Federalist)


DOL Seeks to Expedite Appeal of Overtime Rule Injunction

After the labor secretary is confirmed, he or she will immediately face the issue of whether to move forward with the new overtime regulations that were proposed under President Obama's administration. The Department of Labor filed a motion for an expedited briefing of its appeal of a federal judge's decision to put the brakes on the federal overtime rule.

(SHRM Online)


DOL Secretary Trumpets Labor Reform Successes

The new labor secretary will also need to consider whether to keep in place workplace policy reforms introduced under Obama. In a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez talked about workplace policy reforms implemented during his three-year tenure with the Obama administration.

(SHRM Online)

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