Labor Nominee Acosta Open To Changing Overtime Rule, Promotes Job Training and Fair Enforcement

March 24, 2017

Labor Secretary nominee Alexander Acosta told the Senate HELP Committee in his confirmation hearing this week that, if confirmed, he would change President Obama's final overtime rule and prioritize training workers for high-tech jobs.  Noting the overtime rule "hasn’t been updated since 2004," Acosta said "I think it's unfortunate that rules that involve dollar values can sometimes go more than a decade and sometimes 15 years without updating because life does become more expensive over time," suggesting he would be open to some increase in the salary level threshold.  But he also said that doubling the salary level threshold from $23,660 to $47,476 creates "stress on the system… and how should that be addressed as a policy matter is a very difficult decision but a very serious one."  Senate Democrats pressed Acosta about whether he would preserve other Obama-era rules, but he repeatedly declined to express his views, citing President Trump’s executive order instructing Cabinet members to review all regulations for possible elimination or modification.  On job training, Mr. Acosta said: "We can and must work to reduce the skills gap. We need to make better efforts to align job training with the skills the market demands of its workers, especially as advancing technology changes the types of jobs available in our economy.… If confirmed, I will work with you to maximize the impact of every taxpayer dollar Congress directs towards job training programs."  Mr. Acosta also promised "to enforce the laws under the Department’s jurisdiction fully and fairly.  As a former prosecutor, I will always be on the side of the law and not any particular constituency."  A committee vote on his nomination has been set for March 30, 2017.