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.


  1. Your post is packed full of claims, but contains little in the way of supporting evidence, either from sources or through logic. It would be more powerful if you would focus on one area and provide support. For example, could you provide evidence of employers fining employees for poor performance? How about some documentation of the many things you claim Trump plans to do – do you have speeches, documents, or can you read his mind, somehow?

    Also, you claim employees are charging for on-site daycare and fitness rooms, as if you would expect these items to be free. Should these be free? If you don’t want to work out or don’t have kids, should you then be paid more since you aren’t taking advantage of the free amenities? If you have a worker making $15.00 per hour who has four kids, requiring another worker making $15.00 per hour to watch them, that would require the employee to produce at least $30 per hour to just cover salaries. What about slow times during the day when the company doesn’t make that much? Should the employee hours be cut back, or would the money to pay for these hours magically appear? What if you have an employee who only makes one burger per hour because they work really slow and talk a lot – should they also be paid $15 per hour? Should the employer be able to fire them for poor performance?

    Do you run a company? If not, why not? If you owned a company, you could provide all the great benefits you wanted to your employees. Assuming you’re right about how a company should be run, you would then get all of the employees from other employers who are just in it for the money, You could even just take home $15 per hour yourself so that you could maximize the benefits for employees. What do you think? Maybe instead of resisting, you could be leading.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Regarding daycare, gyms, and other amenities, I’m referring to people who work at large corporations as salaried employees. This is unrelated to the $15-wage movement.

      Also, someone making $15/hour produces far more than $15 in output per hour. The argument is about how much of that output should go to employees.

      I do not run a company. I’m an author. In fact, I couldn’t provide all those benefits because I’m not going to magically become a gigantic company that can afford all that. Those that can afford it, however, should.

      I appreciate your feedback. I do feel I’m leading. I think you and I have different viewpoints, and I hope we can find common ground. You’re always welcome here. I hope to have a great conversations with you.

    2. I did an analysis of McDonalds – a large corporation – and found that the average employee there produces only $13.25 per hour. See the post here: https://smallivy.com/2014/11/15/can-mcdonalds-pay-15-per-hour-2/
      If they were forced to pay $15 per hour, they would need to raise prices and fire employees who produced less than $15 per hour, probably adding a lot of automation. This would not be good for he unskilled worker. Note also that this assumes the company paid out all profits to employees. This would cause the stock price to go to zero, which would hurt thousands of shareholders, some of whom are fixed-income pensioners.

      So why do you say you cannot become a gigantic company. What is stopping you? Have you ever considered what it would take to grow a large corporation, including the effort required by the people who start and grow the company? Would you put forth that effort if you only made $100,000 per year when you did?

    3. I look forward to reading your analysis. Thank you for putting it together. I do have former business experience. I also used to work for a hedge fund. The share price doesn’t drop to zero if a company doesn’t make a profit.

      Your analysis uses all employees to divide profit into an increase in wages, but there are many workers that don’t make minimum wage so I think you need to look into the denominator of your equation. Additionally, McDonalds and other companies are already spending money on automation so higher wages could offset that expense if they stopped trying to remove people from the workforce.

      If I were to start my own company, I had better be comfortable making way less than $100,000/year. It’d take awhile to get there. Later on, I’d definitely put forth even more effort because of the confidence I’d have gained from prior success. I don’t need to be rich to be motivated or happy.

      You don’t start a gigantic company. It starts small. I’m busy working on my own ideas but also focusing on my marriage, my life, and my interests. I would certainly need external funding for one of my bigger ideas, but my main focus in life isn’t to become a very rich person but to be happy and to help others. That’s why I write.

    4. But the share price would drop to $0 if there were never an opportunity for an investor to make a profit. Why would someone put their money a risk if there was no chance of ever making a return since labor costs consumed all available resources?

      I agree that not everyone at McDonald’s makes less than $15, but the vast majority do, so the denominator is close to correct. Plus, you would need to raise almost everyone’s wages by about the same amount if you raised the bottom up. Why would someone who is a manager, say, accept the same as the people he was managing? A manager making $12 now would want $22 if the guy walking in off the street was making $15. I think my numbers are fairly close, and I’ll never be able to do better unless McDonald’s released their oayroll numbers, which they would never do.

    5. It’s all about psychology and caring for people. You say a CEO should be paid at least a million and a manager won’t accept less than $22.

      I totally understand what you’re saying. I do have a degree in economics so I am familiar with what you’re saying. However, this is not about that. It’s about how people treat each other.

      Money isn’t the only motivator. If we “live simply so others can simply live,” then we wouldn’t demand so much money or other material items just because someone else has them. We ought to consider helping each other before this country falls apart even more.

    6. This is a great conversation – thanks for having it.

      I also want people to treat each other fairly – I don’t want sweat shops and the factories of the 1890’s. I also think CEOs are paid too much, although that is really between them and the owners – shareholders – since lowering their pay would really do nothing for the hourly wages of workers – maybe a quarter an hour. I think the best way to get there is to have lots of competition for workers so that individuals can choose who they work for and find someone who will pay them in proportion to the value they provide. I also think that illegal immigration short-circuits the system since you have individuals who are afraid to speak out and who are willing to live twenty to a house and sleep on the floor. Americans who need to pay for a home or apartment and raise a family can’t compete, and employers who don’t hire illegal workers and pay low wages go out of business. Legal immigration is fine, where the employer pays them enough for them to be self-sustaining, provided there are plenty of jobs for them to fill when they come.

      I also think, however, that treating people fairly also means expecting their best. If you pay so much at an entry level job that people can raise a family without ever moving up, and if you don’t pay much more for those who do move up the ladder, you’ll end up with a lot of people who never rise above the first cashier job with pictures of burgers and fries on the keys. You’ll also make it really difficult for those just starting out to find a job since the employers will be paying enough to expect experience (and they’ll automate as much as possible).

      Realize that the way free enterprise works is that those who serve others are rewarded, and those who serve the most people, providing for the most pressing needs, are rewarded the most. Think about how many people benefit because of Wal-Mart and McDonald’s. I want to encourage people to spend most of their time doing as much as they can for others. It is no treating people fairly to expect less of them.

  2. Welcome to American Gulag:

    After President Lincoln abolished slavery in this country, the Union reintroduced Slavery, Serfdom, Forced Labor, and Involuntary Servitude through a series of legislative actions that created new rules and regulations that define the American workplace.

  3. My husband works in a local government job. After 20 years on the job, he still doesn’t make $15 per hour. To be fair, we live in the south so the cost of living is much lower. However, we don’t have any debt besides our mortgage and we are able to live on his income alone. Minimum wage does need to be reevaluated on a regular basis, but poverty is a multifaceted problem. I really enjoyed reading your article and I appreciate the amount of research that went into it.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you and your husband have found a way. I’m an author, and sometimes income is uncertain so I understand. I do try to put a great deal of research into my posts, but if you have additional information, I’m sure my readers can benefit from it.

  4. Two comments and a personal observation:
    1) There is an economic reality that if you raise the cost of something people will buy less of it. Economics 101. So why would wages (cost) and labor (the product) be any different?

    2) The REAL minimum wage is $0.00/hour, and I believe there is a misunderstanding as to what will happen when you get your $15.00/hour minimum wage. Those who are only worth $10/hour will suddenly be competing for $15.00/hour jobs against those who are worth $15.00/hour. If you’re only worth $10.00/hour and someone or something*** comes along that is worth more than you, you’re out of a job.

    Personal observation: I was on a college campus one fall day and there was this HUGE hillside that was all grass. I saw a guy mowing it and I thought to myself, “how many people do nothing but cut grass all day at this university?” Fast forward a few years and I’m on the same campus. That hillside was being mowed by a much larger, faster lawn mower, and there was less grass. Apparently large decorative stone beds with flowers and pieces of art take less maintenance.

    *** Have you seen order kiosks at fast food places? Self-checkout lanes at grocery stores? The inside of an Amazon warehouse?

    Final thought. If $15.00/hour is such a good idea and will not disrupt employment, why phase it in? Why not just go straight to $15.00/hour?

    Final final thought. Why stop at $15.00/hour? Why not $25.00? or $50.00?

    1. What is Dignity?

      In modern economics era, human dignity is compromised, and human worth is measured by income earned. The issue is not that of defending individual rights through collective bargaining. Each working individual has right to ask for written contract or agreement to provide service or to perform labor for any given employer. In the US, both public and private sector employers are hiring workers without signing valid contracts or agreements that uphold the dignity of human being who performs work.

    2. What does this contract or agreement that upholds the dignity of human being who performs work look like? What does it say explicitly?

    3. @stayoffmylawn I appreciate the thought you put into your post. You’re right about the laws of economics. Simply put, when price rises, quantity demanded decreases. Putting it simply, though, only tells part of the story. There are necessary goods, luxury goods, and so on, the supply and demand of which do not graphically rise and fall on a 45-degree angle ad forever. At some point, the quantity demanded for luxury items drops dramatically because a low price reduces one’s perception of luxury, an additional factor beyond price. Conversely, the quantity demanded for necessary goods, like food, water, and energy has a floor because we’ll buy it no matter what if we need it to survive.

      The reason labor is more of a normal good than purely discretionary is because, eventually, you need someone to do the work. You need employees to run a business. You can invest in technology to do it for you, but you also need customers, who aren’t getting paid if they don’t have jobs, which means your revenue declines when they no longer buy your products at automated check-out counters that can’t be maintained because there are no employees ever trained to fix them.

      I agree that raising the minimum wage will have some effect on employment. However, that’s a psychological issue. The reason some people will lose their jobs is because the same billion dollars currently spent on them will be shifted to automation. The same amount of money will be spent, and yet corporations choose to spend that same dollar amount on machines instead of people who live in their communities. This is why we lose jobs with an increase in the minimum wage, not because of the laws of economics.

    4. It is not a psychological issue. It is a very real issue. To say the “same billion dollars currently spent on them will be shifted to automation” is wrong. They spend the money on automation because it’s less expensive.

      Your argument in the first paragraph about necessary goods is not relevant to this conversation because not all labor is necessary. The automation you mention is a substitute for some labor. And if you inflate the cost of labor beyond what its true value, it will be replaced.

      I agree that you need employees to run a business, but that is not an argument against premise that I make.

      And I ask again, Why stop at $15.00/hour? Why not $25.00? or $50.00?

      Thanks for the conversation!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I believe part of the rise in cost of living is coming from an unbundling process that allows supply chains and businesses to charge more by charging a little extra each step of the way. For example, having so many companies in between the original producer and the consumer requires a mark-up for each company to stay in business. Rather than consolidate, I think the company selling the final product has realized that there will be enough willingness to pay no matter the price. The companies profit by selling to a few people while they bankrupt the rest of us.

      Think of airlines. They unbundled the ticket price to include baggage fees, food, etc, but the total price of all of that is higher than the original price when it was bundled together. However, we still pay. Think of insurance. When your company isn’t paying a portion of your premium because they aren’t offering insurance, they insurance company realizes that you’re going to pay the higher price anyway because you’re afraid to go without insurance.

      Thank you for the invitation. I’ll check out the link. You can e-mail me at notify@trumpdiaries.com

    2. Baloney! Have you noticed the shrinking toilet paper phenomenon less for more or the high price of clothing made in Mexico or Pakistan or Malaysia. Employers get away with whatever they can and in some cases they use child slave labor. stop watching fox news and listening to Rush Limbaugh and research the myth of Neo-conservatism. Price hikes in most cases are arbitrary and corporations claim projected losses as real losses and they get a tax break for it; they also get reimbursed for 80% of wages.

    3. And what are you disagreeing with, exactly? You can rant all you want, but make sure it correlates to what I wrote… in some way.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Nasir. I don’t agree that the media hasn’t talked about the crisis of low wages in this country. Moreover, I think the media sources that like Trump support his decision to keep wages low.

      What are your views on this?

    2. I don’t think the media that I use have covered this issue in the depth that you have. I re-blogged your analysis because, in my opinion, trumpdiaries have done a more comprehensive treatment than anything that I’v seen.
      Perhaps others have treated this issue better that the media in my area, but I am not aware of any that have.
      I am also motivated by the need to create an alternative to what,(media), is currently available and you content at this time on this subject is better than the others.

    3. What media are you using? Thank you for re-blogging my work. I do try to be transparent and complete in my work. Often times, the news won’t spend hours and hours on a single subject. Moreover, I try to cover what they don’t.

      I believe the people can be a supplemental news source. Our decentralized format allows for ground-level details and continuous coverage from numerous perspectives, whereas major news sources tend to summarize at a higher level.

      Thank you again for your support. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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