Patrick Pizzella has been appointed to lead the Department of Labor as acting secretary. Alex Acosta announced his resignation due to criticism for his light prosecution of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Acoasta explained the light sentences: “We now have 12 years of knowledge and hindsight and we live in a very different world,” he said. “Today’s world treats victims very, very differently.”
Patrick Pizzella fought to keep minimum wages at $3.05 and worse.
Mother Jones reported: “Patrick Pizzella 1990s to help the Northern Mariana Islands—a US commonwealth 1,500 miles from Japan—defeat a bipartisan effort to rein in a guest worker program that the Labor Department found relied on indentured workers. When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Pizzella whether he knew about reports of forced abortions and routine beatings at the time.” At the time he worked for Jack Abramoff, who later was found guilty of 21 crimes. Together they wanted to shape the Northern Mariana Islands as laboratories in which oppressors would be able to abuse people without any laws to protect the oppressed.
Wendy Doromol, a teacher turned human rights activist, reported on NPR in 2006: “The barbed wire around the factories faced inward so that the workers, mostly women, couldn’t get out. They had quotas that were impossible for these people to reach and if they didn’t reach them, they’d have to stay until they finished the quota and they wouldn’t be paid for that work. They were hot, the barracks were horrible. A lot of the females were told you work during the day in the garment factory and then at night you can go and work in a club and they’d force them into prostitution at night.”
Forced labor and forcing women into prostitution are Pizzalla’s idealized working conditions.
What Pizzella didn’t say in a 2017 Senate Hearing was that he helped lead a public relations campaign to rebrand the islands as a paragon of free-market principles. Between 1996 and 2000, emails and billing records reviewed by Mother Jones show that Pizzella and colleagues organized all-expenses-paid trips to the islands for more than 100 members of Congress, their staffers, and conservative thought leaders. When they got back, Pizzella helped them convince colleagues that the Northern Mariana Islands were, as his old boss (convicted fellon) Abramoff liked to put it, a “laboratory of liberty.”
In 2006 Daily Kos reported: “This is also about a GOP Culture of Corruption that sold their principles, honor, Party and Country for power. It is a story of Sex, forced abortions, prostitution, sweatshops and special favors for the worst Foreign Nationals on the World stage.”
Apparently Pizzella’s work paid off and he kept the $3.05 per hour minimum wage in the commonwealth, which lasted from 1997 to 2007, when President George W. Bush put an end to that. Pizzella celebrated that the minimum wage was lower than in the U.S. and some worker protections are weaker and seemingly non-existent, leading to lower production costs. That allowed garments to be labeled “Made in USA” without having to comply with all U.S. labor laws.
Pizzella’s record as a lobbyist also includes work for a Russian front group, the government of the Marshall Islands, and a trade association fighting against the minimum wage in a U.S. commonwealth.
In a statement Friday, July 12 2019 , Kristine Lucius, the group’s executive vice president for policy and government affairs, said Pizzella’s record “shows he has a clear bias against working people’s rights – which may be good for Trump’s agenda, but bad for the people the department is meant to serve.”
Pizzella was appointed to the Federal Labor Relations Board by President Barack Obama in 2013. He previously served as the assistant secretary of labor for administration and management for eight years under President George W. Bush.