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April 27, 2017

Acosta Must Fight for Working Americans

Statement of Emily Gardner, Worker Health and Safety Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: This evening, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Alexander Acosta as secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.

In his new role as head of the U.S. Department of Labor, Alexander Acosta must prove he is the right candidate to lead this agency. He takes office at a time when deaths among Latino and immigrant workers are rising in the United States, and 150 workers overall lose their lives on the job every day.

Public Citizen has serious reservations about whether Acosta is fit to head the Labor Department. For starters, a 2008 U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report revealed the politicization of hiring practices within DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during Acosta’s tenure. What’s more, Acosta was unable to commit to enforcing the silica rule during his confirmation hearing. This rule – which protects workers from contracting silicosis, lung cancer and other deadly occupational diseases – is expected to save over 600 lives and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis annually.

Working families need an advocate in the Labor Department. Now is the time for Acosta to commit to combating wage theft, protecting workplace whistleblowers and holding employers accountable for unsafe workplaces. He must prioritize enforcing the silica rule and other lifesaving protections for working people. American workers deserve nothing less.

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