On April 28, 2017, Rene Alexander “Alex” Acosta was sworn in as the nation’s 27th U.S. Secretary of Labor. The Senate confirmed him the day before by a bipartisan final vote of 60-38. Eight Democrats and one independent joined the Republicans voting in favor of the appointment.
Secretary Acosta has much work ahead of him in the Department of Labor (DOL) itself. He must address the administration's 21% proposed cuts to the 17,000-employee department, as well as nominating or appointing critical top staff members. As of today, no one has been nominated to lead the Wage & Hour Division, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The new secretary must also carry out several Obama-era policies and new White House directives for all departments to identify burdensome or unnecessary.
Acosta served as Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under President George W. Bush, between August 2003 and June 2005. Acosta was also a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) signing more than 125 opinions, per his biography. Since 2009, Acosta has worked as the dean of the Florida International University College of Law in Miami.
Before his work in the Bush administration, Acosta served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and was that district's longest serving U.S. Attorney since the 1970s. He has earned several awards for business ethics and presently also serves on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission of Florida. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College after which he clerked for Justice Samuel Alito when he was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
AGC congratulated Secretary Acosta on his confirmation in a letter officially requesting an audience to discuss opportunities where AGC and DOL can partner on DOL’s mission to protect American workers while stimulating economic growth and creating new high-quality jobs. Specifically, AGC believes that DOL can achieve these goals through regulatory reduction and streamlining, strengthening the symbiotic partnership between DOL and the construction industry, and enhancing present regulatory compliance education and collaboration initiatives. These objectives remain top priorities for AGC. AGC looks forward to discussing how AGC and DOL can collaborate on these important efforts.
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