Donald Trump taps Alexander Acosta as labor secretary nominee

Alexander Acosta
Alexander Acosta, dean of Florida International University College of Law

R. Alexander Acosta was nominated for secretary of labor by President Donald Trump on Thursday.

His nomination comes one day after Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination in advance of a confirmation hearing.

Mr. Acosta is dean of Florida International University College of Law and chairman of the board of U.S. Century Bank in Doral, Fla. He is a former assistant attorney general in the civil rights division under President George W. Bush, and former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. He also served on the National Labor Relations Board.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that “Mr. Acosta's nomination is off to a good start because he's already been confirmed by the Senate three times.” Mr. Alexander said his committee will schedule a nomination hearing “promptly” once Mr. Acosta's nomination papers arrive in the Senate.

ERISA lawyer Nancy Ross, a partner with Mayer Brown, said that Mr. Acosta “has a reputation of being a champion of diversity, which we may see influence his decisions as secretary.” Although benefit issues will be influenced by whom Mr. Acosta chooses as head of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Ms. Ross said that, “given Acosta's years in government, and his familiarity with the courts, he will likely feel more comfortable taking stances on significant benefits issues, and continue the DOL's robust amicus program from the last administration.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement that “Mr. Acosta's nomination deserves serious consideration. In one day, we've gone from a fast-food CEO who routinely violates labor law to a public servant with experience enforcing it.”