In this blog post, Staff Editor Keith Taubenblatt reflects on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule and its recent repeal.
By Keith Taubenblatt
Photo available here.
Republicans in Congress and President Trump have done away with an important Obama era worker protection measure. On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed Executive Order 13673, requiring companies seeking or holding federal contracts in excess of $500,000 to disclose their prior labor law violations to the government. EO 13673 was the Obama administration’s response to decades of evidence showing labor law violations by federal contractors, and it was an attempt to protect workers employed by those companies from hazardous working conditions and wage theft. A significant number of the workers employed by federal contractors are low-wage earners most at risk for abuse by employers. Nonetheless, Congressional Republicans and the President have deemed EO 13673 unnecessary to the protection of these vulnerable workers. The evidence suggests that their judgment is flawed.
by Cecilia Aguilera
Jeff Sessions Official Photo, available here
Much has been made about the future of the Civil Rights Division following the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, as advocates continue to raise concerns about his civil rights record. Still, others have presented a complicated portrait of the nominee. According to one witness at Sessions’ confirmation hearing, “[n]o one has been more committed or engaged than Senator Sessions in protecting and promoting the interests of black workers in America,” who have been especially susceptible to “los[ing] jobs or hav[ing] their wages reduced.” Further, Sessions “positions himself as a champion of the working class and expounds . . . a belief that the world is divided between working people and elitist ‘masters of the universe[.]’ . . . ” As Attorney General, Sessions will find in the Civil Rights Division a formidable tool for protecting the interests of the working poor, and should use the Division to target practices that commercialize the criminal justice system. Of particular concern should be modern-day peonage practices taking root in some jurisdictions.
by Desiree Tims
President Donald Trump Official Photo, available here
On November 8, 2016, the United States elected its forty-fifth President of the United States. The historic presidential election of Republican Nominee, Donald J. Trump, who is a real-estate billionaire, sparked a national debate between those who support and oppose him due to his divisive campaign rhetoric and political inexperience.
Polling data revealed that Trump received an overwhelming amount of support from working-class white voters. Trump’s thematic “Make America Great Again” slogan was followed by his campaign promises to reinforce law and order, restrict immigration and reduce taxes. Trump has many working-class supporters—some who yearn for the return of high-paying hourly factory jobs—as well as high-income supporters who deeply desire a change to the federal tax code. Furthermore, Trump’s self-declaration as the “law and order candidate” has fueled the debate on criminal justice reform, racial disparities, and equitable application of law.
President-elect Trump’s impact on working-class Americans remains to be seen, but here are three issues that could come to bear during his time in office: