President Trump Repeals Regulation That Helped Protect Workers From Wage Theft [Opinion]

President Donald Trump has been hard at work trying to remove a lot of Obama-era regulations and bills, and the next on deck happens to be one signed that rolled back regulations that protected people from being cheated financially by their employer. It makes sense to think that an employer should not take advantage of their employee in any way. You should pay them what they have earned and treat them with respect. However, not all employers are like this, sadly.

Companies have committed wage theft and even put their employees in harm’s way on multiple occasions, and now they seem to be given a favor by the Trump administration. Trump signed a bill on Monday that repealed a regulation that was put in place to encourage federal contractors to follow labor laws. Of course, under the Obama-era’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Rule,” companies with bad records in violating wage and safety laws would actually end up losing government contracts.

The idea was that if you ended up violating these policies, you would end up losing any government funds despite others received from the past. It made sense in theory, as it protected employees that were involved in federally contracted agencies as they knew the ruling would allow them to remain safe and make the money they are supposed to make, as employers had to abide by the ruling to get funding.

On top of this, it also made tax-payers feel at ease knowing their money was not going to go to a business that hurt its workers or took money out of their pockets. However, Republicans in Congress felt that this was bad business and used something called the Congressional Review Act to help kill the regulation the Obama administration instituted. President Trump would in turn help to seal up the move to kill it completely.

Construction job openings
[Image by Amy Sancetta/AP Images]

This move is a huge deal, perhaps more than anyone knows going in. One would imagine that once Trump gets out of office, the Labor Department could simply put forth a regulation to help again. However, once the Senate sent this to Trump, the President did ensure the Obama-era rule would die but also ensured that a similar regulation could not be pushed forth by the Labor Department again. Of course, that makes this move quite significant.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Labor Policy Expert Heidi Shierholz spoke about the significant of the ruling in a statement, saying the following.

“When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to. 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.”

It is quite an interesting thought, as one would assume that protecting workers would certainly be a big deal. However, that is not exactly what this is about. While Human Rights and Labor Laws still do apply to every American company that operates here, the issue is that companies that have repeated violations can still be given federal money despite the violations. It made sense to keep federal money out of the hands of people who broke laws repeatedly.

This repeal is not random either, as the Republicans in Congress are planning a broad push on regulations mostly instituted under the Obama administration. The Congressional Review Act has allowed them to repeal well over a dozen rules put into place by the Obama administration in fact. Trump is not just relying on Congress to get these done.

Obama and Trump
[Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]

For his part, President Trump has issued multiple executive orders that limit agencies’ ability to put out new regulations on corporations. In fact, a rule added is that officials would need to repeal two existing regulations for every new one. The way the regulations were started under the Obama administration began with Labor groups and advocates pressuring them to issue what eventually became the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Rule. It made sense and certainly did its job.

This was done to avoid contractors from getting federal money after they cheated employees out of pay and endangered them on the job. In fact, the Democrats pushed laws in this field hard for years to tighten the rules on federal contracting when it came to lawbreaking businesses or corporations. The original rule forced businesses that bid on government contracts to disclose all labor violations from the previous three years.

This included any time their company broke laws about collective bargaining, civil rights, health and safety, and even minimum wage and overtime. What was interesting about this was that even if violations existed, it did not mean that they still would not win the federal money they needed. As long as they took care of the problem they created, they could end up still getting the cash.

construction workers
[Image by TOBY TALBOT/AP Images]

The Labor Department estimated this rule would apply to at least 14,000 contractors each year. However, they claimed the following at the time.

“only a small share of these companies is expected to have reportable violations, and even fewer are expected to have serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive violations to report.”

Sadly, business groups hated the regulation and claimed it was a “blacklisting rule.” They pushed the GOP to help kill the regulation in hopes that it would not prevent them from getting federal money. This is not the first and only workplace safety bill that Republicans have tried to remove as of late. Last week, they removed one that would require large employers to keep an accurate record of any injury that happens in their business for five years.

Workplace safety experts fear that repealing this rule would make it easier for companies to hide their health and safety problems, which could certainly be a problem. They still have to get Presidential approval to get this fully removed, however. As of now, President Trump has not signed this legislation, but many expect him to do so considering the one just signed might be a lot more controversial in comparison due to tax-payer money being connected to it.

[Featured Image By Carolyn Kaster/AP Images]