Pres. Bush bypasses Congress to appoint Scalia Labor's top lawyer
From the Jan 2002 Northwest Labor Press
Washington D.C. -- Over the objections of organized labor, President George W. Bush on Jan 11 installed Eugene Scalia as the U.S. Department of Labor's top lawyer.
Bush elevated Scalia to the solicitor general post as a "recess appointment," acting while Congress is in recess and bypassing the Senate confirmation process. Scalia faced stiff opposition in the Senate, and Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., had predicted he could not win confirmation. Scalia's appointment will continue until the end of this congressional session in the fall.
As the Labor Department's chief lawyer, Scalia will be responsible for enforcing more than 180 laws that provide basic worker protections in areas such as safety and health, minimum wages, equal employment opportunity and pension security.
The national AFL-CIO and other allies of working families strongly oppposed Bush's nomination of Scalia, who has worked to kill or weaken worker-safety standards nationally as well as in California, NOrth Carolina and Washington.
While 1.8 million workers a year suffer painful "ergonomic" injuries on the job caused by repetitive or poorly designed work and heavy lifting, Scalia, son of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has termed the science of ergonomics "junk science par excellence" and "quackery."
"this is an appointment that by all standard rules should not have happened," said national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. "The recess appointment simply underscores the Bush Administration's lockstep allegiance to the corporate agenda of blocking needed worker protections.
"Ten months ago, Secretary (of Labor) Chao promised a comprehensive plan on ergonomics. Today we see the first action of substance in that plan -- the appointment as solicitor of labor and individual who for 10 years has fought ergonomics protections whenever and wherever possible, calling ergonomics 'quackery' and questioning whether repetitive strain injuries are real," Sweeney said. "This does not bode well for the secretary keeping her promise to protect workers from these crippling injuries."
Sweeney said that it was unlikely Scalia would have been confirmed by the Senate. "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," he said.