President Donald Trump named Alexander Acosta, a former U.S. Attorney, to be the next Labor Secretary on Thursday. The pick has major implications for small business owners who face issues like a proposed new overtime regulation — currently on hold — and the minimum wage debate all in which the Department of Labor will doubtless play a role.
The announcement comes just hours after Trump’s first pick, CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration for the Cabinet position.
Trump announced the pick from the White House at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“He has had a tremendous career. He has been through Senate confirmation three times — did very, very well,” Trump said at the press conference.
Who is New Labor Secretary Pick Alexander Acosta?
Acosta is a departure from Puzder in many ways.
Where Puzder was expected to call on practical experience, Acosta will have to rely on legal experience as Labor Secretary.
He is currently the dean of the Florida International University College of Law.
Acosta is also not a stranger to Washington D.C. and does have vast experience in employment law.
He served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, now a Supreme Court justice. In 2002, he was appointed as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
After that, Acosta served as Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Dept. He was also U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Acosta is also the chairman of the board at U.S. Century Bank.
Maybe the biggest departure is the reaction to Trump’s pick for Labor Sectretary.
Alex Acosta is a great pick for Labor. He’s not a billionaire. Humble. Hard-working lawyer and Law School dean w/a squeaky clean reputation.
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) February 16, 2017
Marco Rubio tells me Alexander Acosta is an “excellent pick” for Labor Secretary.
“Top notch. Anyone who votes against him is crazy.”
— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) February 16, 2017
It even brought out a good-natured remark from a now infamous White House correspondent.
I must say Secretary Acosta has a great ring to it.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) February 16, 2017
Of course, if it’s a Trump nomination, it won’t come without its critics.
Both the Acosta and Puzder picks demonstrate that Trump thinks he can keep winning union members while pummeling their unions.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) February 16, 2017
Small Business Implications
Labor laws were certainly in the news as the Obama administration was on its way out the door. And Trump has promised “big league” changes from the normal day-to-day.
Proposed regulations — like overtime rules, retirement fund mandates and increased minimum wage — are all huge issues for small businesses. And all could have major implications for small business owners looking to expand by adding more help.
And until a new Labor Secretary is in place, these issues will likely stay in limbo. That makes it nearly impossible for a small business to make any new moves.
The one positive to glean from this selection is Acosta’s legal background. Conceivably, any new labor regulations passed or repealed would have gone through a tighter wringer than, say, recently ill-fated executive orders which have run aground on legal complications.
Image: Florida International University