Series 28 | Part 1: Wage Theft

Donald Trump wants to ease regulations on employers. They benefit employees but are a burden for companies. Their requirements include a minimum wage, workplace safety, equal pay, overtime compensation, and even tipping. They also allow the government to fine companies for violating these laws and former employees to sue for restitution. Donald Trump has reduced the statute of limitations on fining companies that don’t keep records of work-related injuries, removed reporting requirements of labor violations of federal contractors, and has supported GOP proposals against the right to unionize.

Under Donald Trump, companies are the most important vehicle of economic growth. Therefore, he will reduce labor regulations that hamper their ability to profit. Where regulations still exist, he will reduce enforcement and side with the employers. Companies will stop paying employees and instead claim damage to the company or poor performance to withhold their last paycheck. They will charge fees for poor performance and won’t compensate for overtime. They will require workers come in early and stay late without pay. They will require new hires to forfeit the right to class-action and mandate private arbitration. They will give promotions without raises and start offering paid leave instead of overtime pay. They will stop matching retirement accounts. They will pay more for unemployment insurance so they can terminate employment–Trump will likely shorten the unemployment benefit period. They will charge employees for mandatory training and certifications. They will charge sick employees more to cover health insurance, not just for smokers. They will charge for on-site daycare and fitness centers. They will threaten workers who claim work-related injuries, including threats related to their immigration status. They will cut back on workplace expenses by forcing employees to work remotely and not compensate them for purchasing the right equipment to work from home. They will force employees to sign non-compete agreements so that employees can’t find related work if they resign, and they will misclassify employees as independent contractors to not pay benefits.

Federal employees have been misclassified with executive status because executive employees aren’t eligible for overtime pay. Trump has rolled back regulations that prevent wrongful termination and the ability to file for relevant restitution. Trump’s Secretary of Labor has been soft on labor regulations in his career and testified in his confirmation hearing before the Senate that he would defer to Trump’s views where he didn’t hold a strong position. Trump’s Secretary of Transportation is a former Secretary of Labor who ignored numerous complaints about wage theft and workplace safety. During her term, the Department of Labor sided with businesses who mistreated and underpaid employees. Her department’s regulations discouraged workers from reporting stolen wages and told them to handle the situation directly with their employers. A delivery driver worked 55 hours a week without overtime pay and waited 17 months for the Department of Labor to drop the claim without investigating. Her office also ignored an undercover agent posing as a worker complaining about child labor. She didn’t keep records of complaints, and then she declared that “occupational injuries declined to a new low” during her tenure based on the low number of records.

Donald Trump wants to rollback labor and other regulations to give companies more ways to earn a profit. He wants to reduce work-visa programs, and he has deported immigrants working illegally. He also has his own record of wage theft. The Trump Organization often didn’t pay its employees and subcontractors. He wants to remove the Joint Employer Standard that prevents companies from outsourcing to third parties and subcontractors who violate labor laws. He supports the Working Families Flexibility Act, which allows companies to offer paid vacation instead of overtime pay and allows them to prevent employees from using those earned vacation days for more than a year and not paying if the employee leaves the company with unused vacation days. His Secretary of Treasury also claims that automation does not lead to termination of employment.

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