REPEALING OR DELAYING REGULATIONS HARMS WORKERS AND THE PUBLIC

The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are repealing or delaying rules and regulations that protect workers, consumers, and the public. Some of these rules and regulations protect workers from unsafe working conditions, help them save for retirement, or protect their rights and pay. Trump and the Republicans are also delaying rules that would protect investors and the environment.

For example, over a dozen rules that provided important protections for workers have been repealed, including: [1]

  • Repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Rule that required companies applying for federal contracts to disclose past violations of labor laws. As a result, companies that have violated labor and employment laws will continue to be rewarded with federal contracts and taxpayers’ money. The rule would have required disclosure of violations of laws on:

o   Workers’ pay (including pay for overtime),

o   Workplace health and safety,

o   Collective bargaining rights, and

o   Civil rights.

  • Repealed the Workplace Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Rule that required employers to keep records of injuries and illnesses on the job. As a result, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) will be unable to accurately identify and protect workers from unsafe, and potentially life-threatening, working conditions.
  • Repealed a pair of rules that allowed state and local governments to set up retirement savings accounts for private-sector workers whose employers do not provide a retirement plan. Therefore, 55 million workers without a retirement savings plan will not be afforded this retirement savings opportunity, primarily because Wall Street lobbyists made it clear they did not want this competition from a public-sector sponsored program.
  • Repealed a rule that blocked drug testing (which is probably unconstitutional) of applicants for unemployment insurance (UI). Drug testing is an unnecessary and inappropriate hurdle for laid off workers applying for UI. However, whenever a former employee is denied UI or delayed or discouraged from obtaining it by drug testing, it saves their employer from having to pay for unemployment benefits.

The Trump administration has also delayed the implementation of many regulations that would benefit workers, consumers, and the public. These include: [2]

  • Delayed for at least 2 months, the Fiduciary Rule that would require financial advisors, including retirement planners, to put their clients’ best interests first. This is what most people seeking financial advice assume they are getting, but nothing currently prevents financial advisors from steering clients toward investments that pay the advisor a larger commission even if the client is likely to get a lower return on their investment. It is estimated that such behavior costs investors $17 billion a year and that each week’s delay in implementing the rule will cost retirement savers over $400 million over the 30 years (on average) until they take their money out to support them in retirement.
  • Delayed rules limiting exposure to silica and beryllium in the workplace. Roughly 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica dust at work. It is estimated that the rule’s limits would have prevented 900 new cases of silicosis each year and saved over 600 lives. The net benefits are estimated at $7.7 billion annually. In the case of beryllium, an estimated 62,000 workers are exposed to it at work and this can lead to lung disease and lung cancer.
  • Delayed requiring mine operators to inspect their mines for safety hazards and notify miners of hazardous conditions that have not been corrected. The rule also would have required mine operators to keep a record of safety examinations, hazards found, and corrective action taken. In 2010 – 2015, 122 miners died in 110 workplace accidents.
  • Delayed the implementation of a regulation requiring oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce methane (i.e., natural gas) leaks. This delay is occurring due to lobbying by the American Petroleum Industry and other industry groups. Methane gas is a potent global warming gas that is 100 times more harmful than carbon dioxide (i.e., CO2). This is one example, of many, where Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head, Pruitt, is working to repeal or delay environmental regulations that benefit the public and the environment, but are opposed by corporate interests. [3]

Repealing and delaying these regulations, and many others, puts large corporations and their profits first and America’s workers and consumers in danger. It demonstrates the continuing influence of big money, corporate special interests, and their lobbyists in Washington. This is not what many voters expected when Trump spoke (and speaks) about putting America (and its workers) first and draining the swamp of special interests in Washington.

[1]      Shierholz, H., & McNicholas, C., 4/11/17, “Understanding the anti-regulation agenda,” Economic Policy Institute (http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding-the-anti-regulation-agenda-the-basics/)

[2]      McNicholas, C., Shierholz, H., Bivens, J., & Costa, D., 4/27/17, “The first 100 days: President Trump’s top priorities include rolling back protections to workers’ wages, health, and safety,” Economic Policy Institute (http://www.epi.org/publication/the-first-100-days-president-trumps-top-priorities-include-rolling-back-protections-to-workers-wages-health-and-safety/)

[3]      Associated Press, 4/21/17, “Trump EPA balks at new emission rule,” in The Boston Globe Talking Points

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