Maine’s unions and worker advocates condemned Sen. Susan Collins’ vote Thursday afternoon to confirm Eugene Scalia, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Labor. They said his record on of defending corporate interests over workers is the antithesis of the department’s mission, which is to protect wage earners. 

“We are very disappointed with Senator Susan Collins for allowing this man to take over the Department of Labor where he can do the bidding of billionaires and multinational corporations by further trampling on workers’ rights and making it harder and more dangerous to make a living in this country,” Maine AFL-CIO president Cynthia Phinney said in a statement. “Maine workers deserve a secretary of labor who will work to protect their rights, safety, wages and freedom to organize. Senator Collins has shown which side she works for.” 

The Senate voted 53-44 along party lines to install Scalia as labor secretary. Maine independent Senator Angus King voted against the nomination. On Tuesday, Collins, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, cast the deciding vote to advance Scalia’s nomination to the full Senate. 

Scalia is the son of the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He was selected by President Trump to replace former Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who resigned on July 19 amid criticism of a plea deal he offered to serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein when he was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida. 

Scalia is a member of the conservative Federalist Society and a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he works specifically on labor issues and has defended corporate interests including Wal-Mart, the Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street banks, and Boeing. 

Scalia represented Bath Iron Works Corporation and was directly involved in legal battles with three out of the four unions representing workers at the Maine-based shipyard, arguing that bosses should be allowed to “unilaterally” alter workers’ pension plans. 

“The Trump administration continues to use the position of secretary of labor to attack working people, rather than defending their rights. Just as Alexander Acosta before him, Eugene Scalia will work to undermine workplace conditions, especially for already marginalized workers such as immigrants, people of color, workers with disabilities, and those who are injured on the job,” said DrewChristopher Joy, the director of the Southern Maine Workers’ Center. “It’s shameful that any of Maine’s elected representatives would so clearly vote against their own constituents.” 

“Senator Susan Collins could have done the right thing like Senator Angus King did and voted to reject Scalia as labor secretary. Instead, Senator Collins rubber-stamped this extremely unqualified nominee for this critical position. Maine workers deserve better,” said the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989 of the Service Employees International Union, in a statement after Thursday’s Senate vote. 

The preceding originally appeared on, a website and podcast created by progressive group the Maine People’s Alliance. 

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