WASHINGTON- President Donald Trump has selected Florida International University Law School dean Alexander Acosta as Labor Secretary.
“I have wished him the best, we just spoke and he is going to be a tremendous Secretary of Labor,” Trump said of Acosta at a news conference on Thursday.
The nomination of Acosta, a Cuban-American and former appointee of George W. Bush, who served in the Civil Rights Division follows Wednesday’s withdraw of Trump’s previous choice for Labor Secretary, fast-food magnate Andrew Puzder.
Acosta, who graduated from Harvard, also was a member of the National Labor Relations Board and would become the first Hispanic in the Trump administration, if confirmed.
Puzder withdrew his name from consideration after a 1990 video surfaced Wednesday in which his ex-wife alleged spousal abuse while she was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show. She has since recanted those allegations.
Pudzer, who is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., a holding company that owns Hardees and Carl’s Jr., had come under fire from Democrats for having expressed opposition to raising the minimum wage. He also faced criticism for having unknowingly employed an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke at a rally near the U.S. Capitol several hours before Acosta’s appointment, calling on Congress to enact a $15 hour minimum wage.
Sanders issued a statement, saying he was elated that Puzder withdrew:
“I am glad Mr. Puzder will withdraw his name from consideration to be the next labor secretary. The simple truth is that given his relationship to employees at the companies he runs, he was not fit to lead a department responsible for defending workers’ rights. We need a secretary of labor who is going to fight to raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and pay equity for women. We don’t need a labor secretary who makes millions while his workers are paid starvation wages.”
Protesters at the rally with Sanders said they did not have a preferred replacement for Puzder. They advocated for a nominee who would support the working class.
“Certainly a Labor Secretary-nominee who respects the laws of the land with respect to wage and hour, with respect to labor bargaining rights, with respect to ensuring that workers are able to put food on the table for themselves, earn a living wage, have safe working conditions,” said Vicki Shabo, who is vice president of the Washington, D.C. based National Partnership for Women and Families.
Shabo said her organization supports efforts to ensure a $15 per hour minimum wage, paid sick leave, as well as paid family and medical leave.
Luis Hernandez, 22, a construction worker from El Salvador, said he too supports a $15 per hour minimum wage and that he came to the rally in order to “help people.”
When asked whom President Trump should appoint to replace Puzder, Hernandez said: “anyone.”
Guy Beeon, 36, a college student from Cameroon, said he came to the rally to support “good job conditions.”
“I want somebody who will stand for us,” Beeon said when asked whom should be nominated to replace Puzder.