The AFL-CIO website reports that since Trump grabbed the presidency, the U.S. House has voted 15 times and the Senate 13 times to wipe out Obama-era regulations that were protecting workers from workplace hazards. One measure even removes the requirement that corporations keep accurate records of injuries so they can be avoided in the future.
Furthermore, Congress has passed a law killing the Obama Labor Department’s rule requiring federal contracting officers to take a company’s labor law record, tax payments and safety and health record into account before awarding it federal contracts.
And Trump has delayed enforcing standards to reduce construction workers’ exposure to crystalline silica, a move that could cost workers their lives.
Corporate big shots are pinching themselves to make sure they’re not dreaming.
Every worker protection killed means the less they have to spend to keep their employees safe and the more they can ignore workers’ rights.
That adds up to more profits that can be raked in.
“We’ve already witnessed a sea change,” gloated National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club.
And Randy Johnson, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement looking forward to Congress doing away with regulations that give “unions another source of leverage against employers for organizing or contract negotiations.”
In other words, the investment billionaires made in buying U.S. Representatives and Senators is paying off more than ever now that the GOP controls every branch of government.
For example, federal air pollution rules are being gutted, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is turning anti-labor and the Labor Department is delaying a rule that financial advisors must put their clients’ interests first.
What’s more, the GOP has rammed laws through Congress to completely dismantle Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order.
The purpose of the executive order was “to raise wages and benefits, reduce discrimination, improve worker safety, and increase worker rights,” said Heidi Shierholz and Celine McNicholas, analysts at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “The executive order is now dead, thanks to Congress and Trump. That leaves workers unprotected and law-abiding contractors exposed to unfair competition from businesses that don’t play by the rules and engage in wage theft and other crimes.”
But wait … there’s more:
Trumpites in Congress passed a measure to prevent state and local governments from setting up and running 401(k)-type pension plans for workers whose employers don’t provide retirement coverage. The rationale for taking away this right away from states? The GOPers in Congress said, correctly, that such plans would have a competitive advantage over private plans.
And Trump’s Department of Labor is letting a rule that would expand overtime pay eligibility languish in courts. The rule would raise the maximum income at which workers are eligible for overtime pay to $47,476, which would increase the number of eligible workers by 4.2 million.
Even if, somehow, the courts okay the overtime expansion, the GOP is ready to kill it. The House Education and Workforce committee is already considering an alternative designed by the Chamber of Commerce. They call their bill the Working Families Flexibility Act. Under it, employers would grant workers comp time instead of overtime.
Vicki Shabo, vice president of the National Partnership for Women and Families has explained that the proposal would “harm rather than help America’s working families.”
She said, “This legislation is based on smoke and mirrors. It pretends to offer the time off people need when they need it but, in fact, it offers a pay cut for workers without any attendant guarantee of time. It also sets up a dangerous, false dichotomy between time and money when, in fact, working families need both.”
Meanwhile, the Chamber sent Congress a paper with NLRB policies it wants lawmakers to change.
If the Chamber has its way – and there’s no reason to believe it won’t – among other things, holding elections to decide union representation will become more and parent companies would be off the hook if one of their franchises is caught breaking labor laws.
National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg sums up the current situation. She says “ …with majorities in both Houses of Congress who are allies with the Chamber of Commerce, and the White House in the hands of Donald Trump, the Chamber smells blood and is moving with alacrity to enact multiple anti-consumer [and anti-worker] bills.”