Trump’s Broken Promises: Workers

CAP Action
Aug 26 · 6 min read

On April 27, 2016, Donald Trump stated that “the jobs, incomes, and security of the American worker will always be [his] first priority.”

In reality, the Trump administration has demonstrated time and again that its first priority is maximizing profits for corporations while stripping workers of earnings, protections, and job security. In today’s update in honor of working Americans, we highlight how the Trump administration’s policies have hurt workers across the country.

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For more on Trump’s broken promises, go to: trumpsbrokenpromises.org.

FIVE FACTS ON TRUMP’S RECORD WITH WORKERS

1. The Trump administration derailed an Obama-era plan to extend overtime protections to 8.2 million Americans and lowered the salary threshold under which workers qualify. This decision harmed millions of workers who would have been eligible for overtime pay under the previous rule, costing them $1.2 billion dollars in earnings annually.

2. Median real wages have barely budged since Trump took office, growing a paltry 1.0%. Meanwhile, Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution saw their real wages increase by 2.56% — over two-and-a-half times faster. To add insult to injury, the Trump administration’s tax cuts have disproportionately flowed to the richest Americans, with 83% of the benefits going to the wealthiest 1%.

3. As a result of the Trump administration’s tax cuts, overseas business investment grew six times faster than domestic business investment. This year alone, his administration’s tax plan is expected to deliver billions more in benefits to foreign investors than to all the working-class families in every state that voted for Trump combined.

4. The Trump administration sided with corporate interests to let companies force workers into mandatory arbitration agreements, which leaves 60 million workers without real access to courts and unable to bring class action lawsuits against abusive employers. Additionally, the Trump administration’s NLRB appointees empowered companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees, which exclude those workers from federal labor law protections.

5. Since Trump took office, over 700,000 workers have received pink slips due to mass layoffs or plant closures, and over 180,000 workers have seen their jobs outsourced. There were roughly 23,000 of such layoffs in Michigan, 24,000 in Wisconsin, 31,000 in Pennsylvania, and 35,000 in Florida.

DEEP DIVE

WORKPLACE PROTECTIONS

The Trump administration is eroding hard-won workplace protections at an alarming rate — it derailed an Obama-era plan to extend overtime protections to more Americans and lowered the salary threshold under which workers qualify for OT. This decision harmed millions of workers who would have been eligible for overtime pay under the previous rule, costing them $1.2 billion in earnings annually.

Moreover, the Trump administration has made it markedly more difficult for businesses to be held liable for wage violations against contract and franchise workers, which could lead to a loss of worker income of more than $50 billion annually.

Trump’s Labor Department has even allowed employers who commit wage violations to avoid penalties by volunteering to self-regulate. Businesses are expected to self-report violations, determine the amount of back-pay owed, then compensate workers — without covering interest or damages.

The Trump Administration has also ended a rule that requires contractors to meet federal labor standards for the 26 million Americans who do the government’s business. This decision comes as two-thirds of the government’s largest contractors have been found to have violated wage laws, withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in pay.

WAGES

On November 10, 2015, Donald Trump declared on live television that US “wages [are] too high” and added in May of 2016 that there should be no federal minimum wage. The Trump administration instead decided that its tax plan would be a better alternative to raising wages and that it would pay for itself.

Unsurprisingly, median real wages have barely budged, growing at a paltry 1.0% since Trump took office. Americans at the 90th percentile of the income distribution, however, saw their real wages increase by 2.56% — over two-and-a-half times faster.

According to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service, wages grew at a pace “relatively consistent with wage growth prior to the passage of the [tax cuts].” Immediately following the passage of the bill, the Trump administration focused on bonuses that corporations were giving their employees, but the reality is that reported bonuses were equivalent to about $28 per U.S. worker.

The report also found that multinational corporations repatriated $664 billion in foreign earnings in 2018 — more than the previous three years combined. But instead of putting that money into wage raises, corporations spent most of it on $1 trillion in stock buybacks to enrich their shareholders.

Moreover, the Trump administration’s income tax cuts have disproportionately flowed to the richest Americans, with 83% of the benefits going to the wealthiest 1%. The average American in the bottom 80% saw a tax cut of $896, while the average American in the wealthiest 1% saw one of $63,000 — over 70 times more.

MULTINATIONAL FIRMS

A recent report looked at multinational investment before and after the passing of the Trump administration’s 2017 tax bill. It found that among the multinational corporations that faced the highest repatriation costs before the tax bill passed, investment has been significantly greater abroad than at home.

Foreign investment among these firms increased 14% in the three quarters following the passing of the TCJA, while domestic investment remained unchanged. Even among firms that faced no repatriation costs, domestic investment remained unchanged.

And despite Donald Trump’s June 2016 promise to “stop the jobs from leaving America,” American companies are offshoring jobs at record levels. Since Trump took office, over 180,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas.

Federal contractors alone outsourced 10,269 jobs in the year after Trump was elected while receiving over $19 billion in government money. Top federal contractors, like United Technologies, General Motors, Honeywell, and Siemens, are actually offshoring jobs at the fastest rate since the Great Recession. The Trump administration has the authority to stop providing taxpayer dollars to companies that outsource jobs, but not one of the executive orders signed since January of 2017 has addressed this issue.

UNIONS

The Trump administration does not take workers’ rights seriously. For proof, look no further than the administration’s approach to dealing with the Department of Labor. The Trump administration has only filled 43 percent of the department’s senior officials, while previous administrations filled nearly 80 percent.

Additionally, the Trump administration’s nominee to lead U.S. labor policy, Eugene Scalia, has a long record of opposing workers’ rights and fighting unions on behalf of large corporations.

The Trump administration has also sided with corporate interests to let companies force workers into mandatory arbitration agreements. This leaves 60 million workers without real access to the courts, unable to bring class action lawsuits to seek justice in workplace disputes.

The Trump administration’s National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) appointees empowered companies to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees, which would exclude those workers from federal labor law protections.

This NLRB is also working to roll back joint employer protections, which would make it easier for businesses that influence and rely on subcontractors and franchises for their labor to avoid unionization.

President Trump’s appointees to the NLRB ruled that employers can suspend negotiations and withdraw recognition of a union even if a majority of workers technically supports the union at the time of withdrawal.

JOBS

On September 28, 2016, Donald Trump declared that he would be “the greatest president for jobs that God ever created,” adding that there would be “job growth like you’ve never seen.”

In fact, job creation has slowed down under the Trump administration. During the 30 months since he took office, the economy has added an average of 191,000 jobs each month — markedly lower than the 220,000 monthly job gains averaged during the Obama administration’s final 30 months.

Even more worrying is the rate of plant closures and mass layoffs. Based on an analysis of filings through the Department of Labor, nearly 720,000 workers have been notified of plant closings or mass layoffs since Trump took office.


For more on Trump’s broken promises, go to: trumpsbrokenpromises.org.

CAP Action

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Hard-hitting news + analysis paired with action on the issues that matter most. Working alongside @AmProg and @ThinkProgress.

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