Here are your Qs for Trump's Dept. of Labor nominees...

When we heard that Trump nominated two anti-labor nominees to administrative positions at the Department of Labor, Working WA members stepped up to tell Senator Patty Murray what to ask them about at their confirmation hearings.

Cheryl Stanton, who Trump nominated as the head of the Wage and Hour Division, has spent nine years at a law firm representing big corporations that were accused of wage theft & misclassifying drivers. Not only that, she was also sued last year for failing to pay her OWN house cleaners!

And David Zatezalo, Trump’s pick for head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, is a former mining exec at a coal company. His company has been cited for 160 health & safety violations by the very agency he’s being nominated to run — including a roof collapse that killed one miner.

Washington’s own Senator Patty Murray is a key member of the committee that held confirmation hearings for Stanton & Zatezalo. Sen. Murray said she was disappointed with the timing of the hearings (which coincided with two Senate votes) and their length (just 90 minutes), which didn’t allow her to ask the questions she wanted to ask. At the end of the hearings, she said she planned to submit inquiries for the DOL nominees in writing instead.

This week, the committee narrowly approved both Stanton and Zatezalo in a 12-11 vote (with Sen. Murray voting against both), which means their nominations will be passed on to the full Senate for a vote. As the Senate decides whether to confirm these nominees, here are a few questions that hundreds of Working WA members have for them:

  • Cheryl Stanton: What do you have to say about your history representing employers in wage disputes?
  • Cheryl Stanton: Why haven’t you paid your own house cleaners?
  • David Zatezalo: What were you doing when your company was cited in a roof collapse that killed a worker?

And here are some of the other questions we have for these anti-worker nominees…

For Cheryl Stanton, the Wage and Hour Division nominee:

  • Will you advocate for employees? (Madeline, Seattle)
  • How do you feel about an increase to the federal minimum wage? (Heather, Bellevue)
  • How about paid maternal leave to close the wage gap? (David)
  • How about pay equity for women? (Sandra, Vashon)
  • What are your current investments? (Thomas)

For David Zatezalo, the Mine Safety & Health Administration nominee:

  • What have you done to support workers that you think qualifies you to be in charge of Mine Safety or Health Administration? (Ronald)
  • How about putting displaced coal miners to work remediating old coal mines? (David)
  • Do you consider 17 mining violations/$500 thousand in fines while president of mining companies a good record? (Jerry)
  • Were all your company’s violation fines paid in full? (Thomas)
  • What are you doing to ensure safety inspections for the miners that won't get biased reports? (Geri, Port Townsend)
  • Will you uphold OSHA regulations? (Madeline, Seattle)

For both nominees:

  • What are your qualifications for this job? (Patrick, Seattle & Jean, Seattle)
  • With your past record, how are you going to advocate for workers? (Jerry, Enumclaw)
  • Why do you want this job? (Roseann)
  • Who would you represent if nominated? (James)
  • Why do you think you can represent workers, or do you just plan on giving your old bosses more breaks? (Wesley, Vancouver)
  • Why do you want to advocate for workers when it is obvious that you abhor them? (Glen)
  • What makes you think you can do this job? Are you familiar with the fox in the henhouse? (Dennis)
  • How do you feel about the push for $15 per hour federal minimum wage? (David, Kirkland)
  • With your background, why should any worker believe you're qualified and committed to protecting workers? (Paige, Shoreline)
  • Whose side are you on, the workers or the employers?  Can you fairly run your agencies? (Robert)
  • How would you encourage union organizing? (Joan)
  • They wouldn't appoint a general to lose a war. So why have an anti-labor Labor Secretary? (William)
  • If you were in a worker’s position, would you feel confident in nominees with similar history as yours to represent you? (Isaac, Bothell)
  • How can you expect to regulate the corporations when your employment history has been in those industries? (Randy, Seattle)
  • What do you believe is the primary directive of the Dept. of Labor? Do you intend to foster or subvert it? (Richard, Vashon Island)
  • What were your revenue sources in the last 5 years? How would those sources affect your administration? (Howard)
  • Where do you stand on expanded labor rights for workers in the workplace? (Robert)
  • You seem to believe that profit has more value than people and the planet — can you please explain? (Don, Kettle Falls)
  • WHY! (Joe)

Thanks for submitting your questions for the DOL nominees & making your voice heard!

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Yakima workers with Working Washington go on air!

Earlier this month, workers with Working Washington took to the airwaves in Yakima on local radio station KDNA, appearing as guests on the show “Aquí y Allá,” to talk about labor rights and health and safety in the workplace.

The show featured Audulia, an apple orchard field worker, and Saúl, who is on medical leave after injuring his foot and back at his job packing cherries. They talked about discrimination and mistreatment at work, and let other workers know what their rights were & how they could access trainings to learn more.

Audulia, an apple orchard field worker in Yakima

Audulia, an apple orchard field worker in Yakima

The workers addressed issues like the importance of knowing labor rights, common work accidents, discrimination against undocumented workers, and how workers can make their voices heard at the local level under Trump’s administration. Saúl also talked about his experience with seeing workers mistreated after they've been injured at work.

Call-in listeners brought up abuse of women workers in the farm industry, managers they've had who have ignored their on-the-job injuries, the political power of ranch owners, and abuse in the packinghouse industry by supervisors and other management staff.

Saúl, a worker who is on medical leave after being injured on the job

Saúl, a worker who is on medical leave after being injured on the job

Audulia and Saúl invited local workers to join them at the workshops they’ve been participating in with Working Washington. The trainings offer a way for workers — particularly agricultural and packinghouse workers — to learn more about their rights when it comes to health & safety in the workplace, and how they can speak out if their rights are being violated. As Audulia mentioned, trainings like this are also an important way to make managers more accountable — she & her coworkers have already seen better treatment by managers who are aware that they're taking labor rights trainings.

The radio show was a great way for workers to connect with one another and learn about how they can access the trainings that workers with Working Washington have been setting up. Saúl and Audulia made sure workers who listened to the show learned how to get plugged in, and their willingness to speak up & stand up for labor rights will pave the way for many other workers in the Yakima area!