U-High graduate confirmed to lead Labor Department

Leland Culver, Assistant Editor

Eugene Scalia, a 1981 U-High graduate, was confirmed by the Senate as the 33rd Secretary of Labor in a 53-44 vote Sept. 26.

The vote was along party lines, with Democrats raising questions over Mr. Scalia’s fitness to lead the Labor Department due to his history of defending big business and dismissal of labor regulations such as protection from repetitive stress injuries.

While a student at Lab, Mr. Scalia, who went by Gene, was the Midway sports editor, editorial writer and had his own column, known as “Blind Side.” He also participated in debate and soccer and as Disciplinary Board vice president In the election for Disciplinary Board, he beat Arne Duncan, Class of 1982, who later served as Secretary of Education from 2009-2015.

One of Mr. Scalia’s teachers was current English teacher Darlene McCampbell, who described him as “smart” and “fun.”

“He wore this wonderful kind of Frank Sinatra hat,” Ms. McCampbell said. “When he came back a long time later to visit, he was still wearing it…When he took it off, he was bald underneath.”

Former Midway adviser Wayne Brasler remembered Mr. Scalia as a typical Lab student: funny, intelligent and always down to Earth despite being the son of Antonin Scalia, a prominent legal mind who would become a Supreme Court Justice.

When his father would be visiting, it was very interesting to see how Gene would introduce him to everybody,” Mr. Brasler said. “These are very wealthy children with great futures, who were raised in a Catholic home where none of that mattered. What mattered was what you can do in life.”

That voice also comes through Mr. Scalia’s Midway column, where he wrote about topics from fad biking to tensions between parents and students over the growing national problem of substance abuse.

“SUBURBIA IS EVIL. This is the supreme truth upon which all U-Highers must swear,” Mr. Scalia wrote as the opener to a column printed on Jan. 29, 1981 about suburban sprawl.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee received Mr. Scalia’s nomination on Sept. 11. he faced the committee in a confirmation hearing Sept. 19. The committee voted on Sept. 24 to advance hiss nomination, 12-11, also along party lines.

You can read more about Mr. Scalia’s confirmation process on The Washington Post