Rep. Norwood Holding Program Accountable

The Labor Department’s removal of Guess? Inc. from its list of apparel manufacturers and retailers that have voluntarily taken steps to ensure their goods are not made in sweatshop conditions drew criticism at a Jun. 19 congressional hearing. The so-called “Trendsetters List” came under scrutiny as part of an ongoing congressional review of the agency’s program administration and law enforcement efforts. At issue is whether the Labor Department acted arbitrarily in designating companies for the list, possibly running afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act.
How department officials decided which companies met its criteria for inclusion on the list was the focus of the hearing by the Education & the Workforce Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations. Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), who chaired the hearing, questioned both the agency’s decisions as to which companies to place on the list as well as its subsequent move to put Guess on “probation.”
Norwood questioned the timing of the Labor Department’s move against Guess, suggesting that organized labor pressured the agency to take the action. Guess had been under attack from the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees for alleged labor law violations. Both UNITE and the Jewish Labor Committee contacted the Labor Department in Nov. 1996 to condemn Guess’ inclusion on the list, Norwood said. “The timing of this is very coincidental,” Norwood said, adding that the department action was “very damaging to Guess.” Norwood also said he was troubled that decisions as to who and who not to include on the list were made in “closed-door” meetings. “Clearly the law has not been followed,” Norwood said of the APA, “when you have had closed-door meetings.” The APA sets out procedures government agencies must follow when engaging in rulemaking. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/22/98]

Congressional Liberals & SEIU Boss Back Herman
According to a press release of Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a small group Congressional liberals and a few others held a Jun. 18 press conference at the National Press Club to “express their confidence in the integrity of U.S. Labor Department Secretary Alexis M. Herman; to challenge the credibility of the Secretary’s principal accuser, Laurent Yene; and to draw attention to the false allegations that are the basis of the current investigation and the flaws in the [independent counsel] statute.” Joining the group was Andrew L. Stern, President, Service Employees International Union who is under investigating himself for his alleged role in the Teamsters money-laundering scandal. According U.S. District Court records, Stern pledged to raised $50,000 for Ron Carey’s reelection campaign which would be a violation the ban on solicitation of funds for Teamsters candidates by union officials outside the Teamsters.