Back to Worker Rights and Wages Policy Watch

Trump nominates Wage and Hour Division administrator and Mine Safety and Health Administration head

Description: On  September 2nd, President Trump announced his nominees to two key positions at the Department of Labor (DOL). Trump nominated Cheryl Stanton to serve as his Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administrator, a position responsible for enforcing our nation’s basic wage protections. Since 2013, Stanton has headed the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, an agency that does not handle wage enforcement. Much of her career has in fact been dedicated to representing employers, not workers, in wage and hour cases. Trump also nominated former coal mining executive David Zatezalo to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Zatezalo formerly served as chief executive of Rhino Resources, a coal company that had numerous clashes with MSHA officials during the Obama administration. Following the Upper Big Branch mine disaster on April 5, 2010, MSHA stepped up its enforcement efforts, and identified a number of health and safety violations at Zatezalo’s company.

Fair Economy Impact: WHD and MSHA are key enforcement agencies within the DOL. WHD is tasked with enforcing Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as several other important wage requirements. In an economy where billions of dollars are stolen from workers each year in the form of wage theft, enforcement of these requirements needs to be strengthened, not diminished. Similarly, MSHA carries out the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, and mine worker deaths have decreased dramatically since then. However, to date in 2017, twelve miners have died on the job, and 25 died in 2016. By nominating two individuals who have a history of working against the very agencies they will lead, President Trump has shown that he does not intend to strenuously enforce important protections for working people.