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Statement by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on President Bush's Recess Appointment of Eugene Scalia to be Solicitor of Labor

It is a slap in the face of American workers for President Bush to recess appoint Eugene Scalia, an outspoken opponent of ergonomics and other worker protection initiatives, to be the Solicitor of Labor.

This is an appointment that by all standard rules should not have happened. Eugene Scalia's nomination faced intense and broad opposition in the United States Senate and from an array of worker advocates because of his track record of extreme and relentless opposition to ergonomics protections and other worker protection initiatives. In these situations, people with grace withdraw their nominations, and Administrations with intentions to work in a bi-partisan fashion withdraw them in favor of more mainstream candidates.

It has been clear since early fall that Eugene Scalia could not be confirmed by the Senate. The recess appointment today simply underscores the Bush Administration's lockstep allegience to the corporate agenda of blocking needed worker protections. Ten months ago, Secretary Chao promised a comprehensive plan on ergonomics. Today we see the first action of substance in that plan—the appointment as Solicitor of Labor an individual who for ten years has fought ergonomics protections whenever and wherever possible, calling ergonomics "quackery" and questioning whether repetitive strain injuries are real. This does not bode well for the Secretary keeping her promise to protect workers from these crippling injuries.

Workers depend on the Solicitor of Labor for implementing and enforcing workplace safety, wage and hour, pension security, and other critically important protections. Eugene Scalia promised during his confirmation hearing to vigorously enforce the law on behalf of American workers. We hope he spoke the truth. Only time will tell.

 

 Contact: Kathy Roeder 202-508-6947

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