Seafarers back Chao to head Transportation Dept.

CAMP SPRINGS, Md.—Citing her support for federal maritime programs, the Seafarers back GOP President Donald Trump’s nomination of former Bush administration Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to be Trump’s Transportation Secretary.

While the Seafarers praised her relations with maritime unions, Chao, a foundation executive who is also married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., angered unions and workers during her Labor Department tenure – going so far as to threaten, in 2001, to find ways to prosecute national union leaders.

Seafarers President Michael Sacco, in a joint release with the maritime industry, said “there is nobody better qualified” than Chao for the Transportation Department post. He called her “a steadfast friend” to his union and to maritime labor in general.

“She has stood up to defend the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, cargo preference and other key programs that keep our industry alive,” Sacco said. “She understands the importance of providing jobs to working families and she has seen firsthand the value of the U.S. Merchant Marine to our nation’s defense and prosperity.”

Chao is the second Trump Cabinet nominee with notable union support.  The  Govern-ment Employees, the largest federal workers union, endorsed Dr. David Shulkin, a non-partisan physician and medical administrator, to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shulkin now heads VA’s health care system. Other Cabinet nominees draw heavy union flak.

Senators of both parties welcomed Chao, and few challenged her on infrastructure – a hot topic for a Transportation Secretary – or millions of dollars in compensation she will receive from Wells Fargo Bank, where she is now a director.