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Department of Labor Budget Neglects Workers

American Rights at Work Urges Oversight and Accountability of Agency’s Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2008

CONTACT:
Josh Goldstein
202-822-2127 x118
954-254-4900 (Cell)
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Washington, DC—Today, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao will testify before Congress to justify the administration’s $53.1 billion Department of Labor budget for fiscal year 2009. Announcing the budget proposal earlier this year, Secretary Chao claimed it reflected “our ongoing commitment to protecting workers’ safety and health” while “increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce.” However, this year’s budget and Secretary Chao’s actions contradict her statement.

This year’s budget cuts $1.3 billion from employment and training programs and makes further funding cuts for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, despite the numerous mine tragedies we’ve witnessed under her watch. Given Secretary Chao’s history of abusing funds to wage an ideological war on workers and their unions and doling out non-competitive grants, as revealed by the Labor Department’s own Inspector General report, her budget and the appropriation of such funds clearly demand much needed oversight.

American Rights at Work Executive Director Mary Beth Maxwell issued the following statement concerning today’s hearing:

“Secretary Chao’s Labor Department budget once again shows this administration’s misplaced priorities on issues affecting workers. At a time when unemployment is on the rise and jobs are being shipped overseas at record pace, the budget’s severe cut in employment and training programs will devastate Americans eager to gain new job skills and find work.

Secretary Chao will avoid discussing the fact that she has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and has ignored the fundamental needs of workers. I urge congressional leaders to demand answers from Secretary Chao on the tough questions that must be asked. It’s time lawmakers hold Secretary Chao accountable for her gross mismanagement of the Labor Department.”

Highlighting Secretary Chao’s significant failings during her time at the Labor Department, American Rights at Work recently launched a web-based campaign, www.ShameOnElaine.org, to expose Chao’s record and demand a change of course during her final year on the job.