OPINION: Workers lost in Trump’s first 100 days

by Economic Policy Institute

In a new report (HERE), EPI experts examine President Trump’s actions in his first 100 days analyzes their impact on the nation’s working people and on our economy.

The first 100 days outlines how President Trump has rolled back worker protections, proposed a budget that would dramatically cut funding for the agencies that safeguard workers’ rights, wages, and safety, and advanced nominees to key posts who are hostile to policies that boost wages, enhance workers’ bargaining power, and protect worker safety.

Some highlights (details HERE):

Day 41. Trump DOL’s delay of beryllium rule puts workers at continued risk of illness.

Day 64. Trump DOL proposes delay to rule protecting mineworkers.

Day 67. Trump rewards contractors who violate labor and employment laws.

Day 71. Trump makes it harder for jobless workers to access unemployment benefits.

Day 74. Trump makes the workplace less safe for workers.

Day 77. Trump DOL’s delay of silica rule puts workers at continued risk of lung disease.

Day 84. Trump makes it harder for workers to save for retirement.

Day 78. President Trump succeeds in putting Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court despite a troubling record on workers’ rights.

To highlight one example: Gorsuch was questioned extensively at his confirmation hearing about his dissent in the TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board case.38

The majority of a three-judge Tenth Circuit panel upheld an Administrative Review Board ruling in favor of a truck driver who refused to follow his supervisor’s orders to either drag his trailer—which had frozen brakes—or remain with the stranded trailer (in subzero temperatures with no heat) until a repairperson arrived.

Because he was experiencing symptoms of hypothermia, the driver unhitched the trailer from the truck and drove to a gas station. He was fired for violating company policy by abandoning his trailer while under dispatch. However, under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, a truck driver may not be fired for refusing to operate a vehicle when he reasonably fears for his or others’ safety. An administrative law judge, the Administrative Review Board, and the Tenth Circuit majority held that the driver had been unlawfully fired. Only Gorsuch dissented.

Gorsuch’s dissent in this case suggests a hostility to fundamental worker protections.

In his dissent, he describes health and safety goals as “ephemeral and generic” and views a worker having to wait in subzero temperatures with no access to heat while experiencing symptoms of hypothermia as merely “unpleasant.” This language indicates that Judge Gorsuch does not understand workers’ lives or the laws that protect them. His dissent should raise serious concerns for working men and women about his treatment of protections in other labor and employment laws.

Day 4. President Trump withdraws from negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a smart move—but a shift of focus to bilateral trade agreements is likely to undercut workers’ wages.

Day 89. President Trump signs the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order—a positive signal but lacking in concrete proposals for reform.

The Trump DOL has announced enhanced oversight of H-1B guestworker program, but DOL budget cuts could stand in the way of these plans.

“In his first 100 days in office, President Trump has continued to talk about creating ‘jobs where Americans prosper and grow.’ However, his actions during that time tell a different story,” said Celine McNicholas of EPI’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages.

“Working Americans deserve more than talk. If the president were serious about improving the lives of working men and women, he could strengthen overtime rules, work to increase the minimum wage, and support workers’ rights to bargain collectively. Instead he has steadily undermined the laws and institutions that protect working people and advance their interests.”

Key actions taken in Trump’s first 100 days include:

  • Ensuring retirement savers will lose billions of dollars by delaying the “fiduciary rule” (day 15)
  • Putting workers at risk by delaying rules limiting their exposure to beryllium (day 41) and silica dust (day 77)
  • Rewarding federal contractors who violate labor and employment laws with the rollback of an Obama-era executive order (day 67)
  • Advancing two labor secretary nominees and a Supreme Court nominee who are hostile to workers’ rights and protections


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