Six Things You Didn’t Know Trump and Congress Are Working On

Celine McNicholas

Celine McNicholas Labor Counsel, Economic Policy Institute

For the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency, what exactly have he and Congress been working on?
 
While the media and many advocacy groups have been focused on the Trump-Russia investigation and health care repeal, EPI’s Perkins Project is your watchdog unit monitoring, analyzing, and publicizing any attempts to dismantle the laws and regulations that protect working people and their families.

Here are six policies that you might have missed that Donald Trump and Congress are trying to enact while they think we’re not looking:
 
Wall Street vs. Retirees―Earlier this month, the “Fiduciary Rule”―passed by President Obama’s Department of Labor―went into effect. But Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is refusing to enforce it. The Fiduciary Rule requires Wall Street advisers to provide retirement investment advice that’s in your best interests, not the adviser’s. Stopping these conflicts of interest would save retirees $17 billion each year in charges and fees. Donald Trump is siding with Wall Street over current and future retirees.

Corporations vs. Working People―Last year, we worked hard to update the overtime pay rule, which would allow 12.5 million people to receive the overtime pay they deserve. But now, Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is preparing to open up a new comment period in an attempt to undermine and kill this new rule. Trump is siding with corporate lobbyists who are trying to rob working people of their right to overtime pay.

Union Busters in the White House and Congress―Donald Trump’s Department of Labor is rescinding the “persuader rule,” which previously required employers to disclose if they had hired a consultant to “persuade” employees against joining together in union. Scrapping this rule gives union-busting CEOs a break and robs working people of the freedom to make an informed choice in a union election. Donald Trump is turning his back on working people by allowing corporations—with no consequences or oversite—to stop their employees from joining together to improve their jobs.

And, while the President’s Department of Labor is giving union-busting CEOs a break, Congress is trying even harder to prevent working people from joining together to negotiate for a fair return on their work. This month, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health, Labor, Employment and Pensions discussed three anti-union bills.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act would enable employers to disrupt workers trying to organize in union by packing the vote with workers who do not share the interests of those who are organizing. This would make it very difficult for working people to win a union. And―in a true double standard―this bill would make it harder for working people to grow their power in numbers because it restricts the freedom to easily add new staff to an existing union. The true goal of the legislation has nothing to do with employee fairness. It’s to ensure that working people don’t have the freedom to come together and negotiate with their employers for a fair return on their work.

The Employee Privacy Protection Act, also being debated in Congress, would unfairly restrict people organizing a union from contacting employees. Under current law, a union has the right to a list of names, job classifications, work locations, shifts, and contact information for potential union members within two days after a group of working people decide to negotiate together. The EPPA would require that the voter information be provided to the union “not earlier than 7 days” after it is requested. However, the bill does not provide a maximum waiting time. So, the employees organizing in union could receive the information the day before the election. Further, the EPPA restricts the contact information that would be shared. The bill forces a worker to select, in writing, one form of contact information (telephone, email, or mailing address) to provide. If a worker wanted to provide multiple contacts, this bill would prohibit that.

The Employee Rights Act is the most far-reaching of the three measures considered by the committee. It requires that a union win the support of the majority of all employees eligible to vote in the union election—not just those workers who actually cast a ballot. Imagine if congressional elections worked that way! None of the members who sponsored this legislation would have been elected!
 
It’s clear that these rules aren’t about protecting working people or creating jobs—they’re about who gets to benefit from our hard work. When working people lose the freedom to speak up together, the rich and powerful will continue to rig the rules in their favor and at our expense.

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Reposted from the EPI.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

California Protects Precariat Workers

From the AFL-CIO

In a historic win for California’s workers, the California Legislature approved a bill Sept. 13 that makes the misclassification of employees as independent contractors more difficult.

Sponsored by the California Labor Federation, Assembly Bill 5 codifies and expands on a 2018 California Supreme Court decision.

The bill also will help curb the rampant exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers and give California’s working people the basic rights and protections we all deserve. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill into law.

 “The time is up for unscrupulous employers who claim their workers are ‘independent’ in order to cut corners on costs,”  California Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez said about A.B. 5

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