Patrick Pizzella takes the reins as acting Secretary of Labor following Alexander Acosta’s resignation over a 2008 plea deal he arranged for Jeffery Epstein. Pizzella has been deputy secretary just over a year and held various positions related to labor policy during two previous administrations. While Acosta was cautious about too-quickly reversing Obama-era policies that favored workers and unions, Pizzella is not likely to follow suit.
According to Tammy McCutchen, a Republican former Wage and Hour administrator for the Department of Labor, “I think we will see a quicker pace of change, and I am confident the Wage and Hour Division will complete its work on the overtime exemption, regular rate, and joint employment regulations.” All three proposed rules are high priority for employers.
While serving as the only Republican member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) under Obama, Pizzella showed himself to be firmly on the side of management. He often wrote dissents siding with management when the Democrat members of FLRA decided in favor of unions. When he became Deputy Secretary of the Labor Department, Pizzella’s allies were optimistic that he would help change the tone at the agency, relaxing enforcement of laws that employers consider harsh. Acosta, however, failed to give his deputy opportunity to influence policy, relegating him to administrative and politically neutral tasks.
The speed with which Pizzella can change course may be limited. What happens next “is partly going to be based on the fact we’re heading into the heavy political season,” said David Weil, a DOL agency head under Obama who is now dean and professor of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. “Are they going to come out with bold new policies that are going to be on the face anti-worker? I don’t think so at this point.” Since the president will be courting union votes for his reelection campaign, he may limit enactment of DOL policies perceived as anti-labor.
We will keep you posted on regulatory changes as they occur. If you have questions, let us know; we’re happy to help.
Bonus: The pro-labor shot heard round the world
While the world cheered the U.S. women’s national soccer team as it sealed the second straight World Cup championship, another cheer got progressively louder: “Pay them!” The spotlight on the wage gap between the men’s and women’s national teams by the U.S. Soccer Federation could no longer be quietly justified. Senator Joe Manchin proposed a bill that withholds federal funding for the 2026 men’s World Cup until the teams are paid equitably. More than 50 members of Congress have written the Federation demanding that members of the U.S. women’s team receive a base pay that reflects their status as the best in the world. I can’t wait to see Megan Rapinoe before a Senate committee.