By Miriam Raftery
September 3, 2018 (Washington D.C.) -- President Donald Trump started the Labor Day weekend by issuing an executive order cancelling a modest 2.1% pay raise for federal workers, and ended the weekend Monday by denouncing Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor union.
The President did Tweet, “The Worker in America is doing better than ever before. Celebrate Labor Day!” But his administration has taken a string of actions to undermine the wellbeing of workers taken since Trump took office.
His focus has been largely on rolling back regulations on corporations. The results have helped businesses boost their bottom line and led to an uptick in the economy. But often, cuts in regulations have come at the expense of workers, leading to the largeste gap between workers' pay and executive compensation in U.s. history. Specifically, the Trump administration has:
- Appointed anti-labor representatives to the National Labor Relations Board
- Supported laws to make it harder for unions to organize
- Opposed increasing the federal minimum wage despite many working poor who are living below the federal poverty level even when employed full-time
- Called for cuts in Social Security and Medicare
- Issued executive orders limiting powers of unions representing federal workers (an action blocked by a federal judge)
- Killed a rule requiring companies to keep records of workplace injuries long-term
- Backed lawsuits to destroy public unions
- Slashed healthcare benefits
- Eliminated rules to protect workers from dangerous chemicals
- Cancelled an executive order to increase overtime pay for workers
- Appointed pro-corporate, anti-labor judges
The President’s criticism of Trumka came after the labor leader appeared on Fox News Sunday. Trump has said he may seek to drop Canada from the North American Free Trade Agreement; Trumka noted that the economies of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are integrated and that dropping Canada could harm the U.S. economy. For instances, many Canadian autos are made with parts made in America.
Trump fired back on Twitter saying Trumka “represented his union poorly on television this weekend.”
As for killing the federal pay increase, the President’s action could be overridden by Congress. The Senate has already passed a measure calling for a 1.9% increase, so now it will be up to the House to determine whether pay will be frozen for federal workers or not.
One major beneficiary of the Trump administrations attacks on labor protections has been Trump’s own business ventures.
Trump paid over a million dollars for labor violations through his business enterprises, the New York Times reported in November, and has reportedly hired low-wage immigrants over American workers through his companies. He has also been sued for a wide range of alleged labor violations ranging from sexual harassment to unpaid wages.