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President Trump rolled back the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” rule

By: Alexsis Beltran

 

After the failed attempt to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law with the wildly unpopular GOP healthcare plan, President Donald Trump tries to amend his public image by signing into law a resolution that put an end to his predecessor’s “blacklisting rule,” also known as Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, which required employers to disclose labor law violations, including wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and hiring discrimination they had in the past three years. (http://dailyreporter.com/2017/03/27/trump-signs-resolution-blocking-blacklisting-rule/ and http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/donald-trump-sign-regulation-obama-roll-backs/)

The legislation, HJ Resolution 37, was sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, who argued that the Obama-era regulation gives Labor Department the right to deny business to contractors based on “alleged” violations. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/donald-trump-sign-regulation-obama-roll-backs/) Votes on the bill were conducted early this month with division along party lines in both the House and Senate. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-worker-safety-bill-20170327-story.html)

As he signed the bill from the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Monday, Trump said there was “a lot more coming” and he would “remove every job-killing regulation we can find.” (http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/27/trump-signs-four-bills-rolling-back-obama-era-regulations/)

“Associated Builders and Contractors has opposed the illegal blacklisting rule from the day it was first proposed as an executive order by President Obama,” Ben Brubeck, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs, said in a statement. “The rule violated the due process rights of contractors by forcing them to report mere allegations of misconduct — which are often frivolous and filed with nefarious intentions by special interest groups — the same as fully adjudicated violations.” (http://dailyreporter.com/2017/03/27/trump-signs-resolution-blocking-blacklisting-rule/)

Interestingly, that regulation, derided by critics as the “blacklisting” rule, was already held up in court by ABC and Trump has gone on a deregulation binge to axe it along with numerous regulations that the GOP deemed unnecessary and bad for business. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/27/trump-signs-four-bills-roll-back-obama-era-regulations/99690456/) “The rule simply made it too easy for trial lawyers to go after American companies and American workers who contract with the federal government,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/27/trump-signs-four-bills-roll-back-obama-era-regulations/99690456/)

By overturning the blacklist rule, Trump is bound to face opposition from many of the working-class voters who supported him last November and those who have labor concerns in general as he promised to improve their wages and working conditions. (http://thehill.com/regulation/325963-trump-repeals-blacklisting-rule) “The message Donald Trump is sending today is that there are no consequences for companies who break American Labor law,” said Joseph Geevarghese, executive director of Good Jobs Nation, which is part of the movement lobbying for a $15 federal minimum wage. (http://thehill.com/regulation/325963-trump-repeals-blacklisting-rule)

“When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to,” Heidi Shierholz, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement. “By blocking this rule, the president and congressional Republicans will ensure that taxpayers will continue to support contractors with a history of wage theft and health and safety violations.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-repeals-regulation-wage-theft_us_58d9408ee4b03692bea814c9)

In a last-minute effort to fight for the rule, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, issued a report that showed that 66 of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors have victimized workers by neglecting federal wage and hour laws. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-worker-safety-bill-20170327-story.html)

“Instead of creating jobs or raising wages,” she said during a speech on the Senate floor moments before a vote was cast. “They’re trying to make it easier for companies that get big-time, taxpayer-funded government contracts to steal wages from their employees and injure their workers without admitting responsibility.” (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-worker-safety-bill-20170327-story.html)

Trump has repealed the regulation under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996, which allows rules to be overturned with a simple joint resolution stating that “such rule shall have no force or effect.” (http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/27/trump-repeals-obama-era-labor-rule-that-could-have-cost-businesses-millions/) Interestingly, before his seventh usage of the law, it has only been used once, which occurred when then-President George W. Bush repealed a Clinton-era labor regulation. (http://thehill.com/regulation/325963-trump-repeals-blacklisting-rule). It should be noted that by using the CRA any new rule issued must not be “substantially” in the same form to the one that was overturned. (http://thehill.com/regulation/325963-trump-repeals-blacklisting-rule)

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