Saturday, August 31, 2019

With a friend like Trump, American workers need no enemies.

When it comes to wooing workers, Trump convinced millions of American workers that he is their true friend, fighting hard for them, even though he and his appointees have taken one anti-worker action after another—dozens of them. In reality, not so much courting workers but using the courts against them.

Trump has effectively scrapped the “fiduciary” rule that required Wall Street firms to act in the best interests of workers and retirees in handling their 401(k)s—a move that could cost many workers tens of thousands of dollars. 

Trump erased a rule that extended overtime pay to millions more workers, a move that will deprive many workers of thousands of dollars per year. While Trump boasted that he is the best friend of miners, his Labor Department pushed to relax rules for safety inspections in coal mines, but was stopped by a federal circuit court. Trump has made it easier to award federal contracts to companies that are repeat violators of wage laws, sexual harassment laws, racial discrimination laws or laws protecting workers right to unionize.

Trump has reversed a ban on a toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos, that causes acute reactions in farmworkers and does neurological damage to children. He has greatly relaxed requirements for employers to report workplace injuries, making it harder for workers to know how dangerous their workplace is and what hazards need correcting. His administration is hurting gay, lesbian and bisexual workers by urging the Supreme Court to rule that federal anti-discrimination laws don’t cover them, which would give employers a green light to fire them. His administration has rolled back rules that sought to prevent payday lenders from preying on financially strapped workers.

Trump has repeatedly pummeled federal employees—he precipitated a 35-day government shutdown that left many dedicated federal workers desperate, without paychecks. He ordered a pay freeze for federal workers, only to have Congress reverse that move. His administration has also maneuvered in myriad ways to weaken federal employee unions.

Trump’s Labor Department is even allowing many employers who violate minimum wage, overtime and other wage laws to avoid any penalty by volunteering to investigate themselves. In a blow to workers of color and women, the Trump administration scrapped a rule that let the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collect pay data from large corporations so it could obtain insights into possible pay discrimination by gender and race.

Trump’s appointees have eased safety requirements for oil and gas drilling workers. His Administration has even relaxed child labor rules, allowing 16-and 17-year-olds who work in nursing homes and hospitals to operate power-driven patient lifts without supervision— even though thousands of experienced adult health-care workers get injured each year moving and lifting patients.

Trump has done next to nothing to make good on his campaign promise to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure—a promise that had excited many workers. Nor has he lifted a finger to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t been increased in a decade, the longest stretch without such an increase since Congress first enacted the federal minimum wage more than 80 years ago. Nor has Trump done anything to enact a paid sick days law or to increase the earned income tax credit. But, of course, he pushed repeatedly to gut the Affordable Care Act, a move that would jeopardize millions of workers and their families by leaving many more Americans without health coverage.

The list goes on and on.

Trump’s appointees to the federal courts and federal agencies have moved aggressively to undercut workers and unions. Trump’s first Supreme Court appointee, Neil Gorsuch, cast the deciding vote in the Epic Systems case, which went far to gut workers’ ability to enforce their rights against wage theft, sexual harassment or racial discrimination. That ruling gives companies the court’s blessing to prohibit workers from bringing class action lawsuits and instead lets employers require workers to resolve their grievances through closed-door arbitrations, which, according to numerous studies, greatly favor employers. Gorsuch also delivered the deciding vote in the 5-4 Janus v. AFSCME case—the most important anti-union decision in decades. In that 2018 decision, the court’s conservative majority ruled that teachers, police officers and other government workers can’t be required to pay any fees or dues to the unions that bargain for them.

Trump’s National Labor Relations Board has also moved to weaken unions and undercut workers’ ability to band together. By making it far harder to define companies like McDonald’s as joint employers, the NLRB has made it far more difficult for workers employed by subcontractors and franchised companies to unionize. Trump’s NLRB appointees have said gig economy workers like Uber and Lyft drivers should be considered independent contractors and not employees, thus blocking any possibility for them to unionize under federal law. And now Trump’s NLRB appointees seem intent on stripping graduate student workers at private universities of their right to unionize and bargain collectively.

Nor has Trump hidden his disdain for unions and union leaders.

 Last September, he attacked—and insulted—AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a tweet, writing “some of the things he said on television]were so against the working men and women of our country and the success of the U.S. itself, that is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly.”

 In another anti-union tweet, Trump absurdly blamed Dave Green, the president of the UAW local in Lordstown, Ohio, for the closing of G.M.’s huge auto assembly plant there, even though no one worked harder than Green to keep that plant open. 

In yet another tweet Trump savaged Chuck Jones, the president of a steelworkers local in Indianapolis. Jones had criticized Trump for not making good on his promise to save all the jobs at a Carrier plant there after Carrier announced plans to move the Indianapolis operations to Mexico. Trump wrote that Jones “has done a terrible job representing workers. 

Taken from here

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