April 29th will mark the end of the first 100 days of the Trump administration, and the President has placed a great deal of importance on achieving success in this honeymoon phase. Below is a quick recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly of what transpired during the first 100 days on labor and employment policy.
At the end of March, President Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to repeal what is known as the Blacklisting rule. The rule, which derives from a 2014 Obama executive order, required contractors who bid on federal contracts over $500,000 to report alleged, as well as actual, labor violations over the last three years. These violations could have been used to block a company’s bid.
This rule was all pain for no gain. Government officials could not produce an estimate of the rule’s benefits, but found more than $400 million in costs to the government and employers in addition to 2.1 million paperwork burden hours. In addition, denying contractors the chance to bid on federal contracts because of alleged violations is unfair (especially since unions had planned to file frivolous grievances to gain leverage in labor negotiations) and would harm competition for contracts. Repealing this red tape was a good first step toward unraveling the previous administration’s job-killing regulatory agenda.
The Trump administration has failed to take a stance against the Obama administration’s overtime rule, which raised the salary threshold for overtime eligible employees by 100 percent. The overtime rule was one of former President Obama’s most damaging regulations. Besides its huge costs, it would greatly harm the prospects of employees, especially junior managers and individuals with a high school diploma or less, small businesses, non-profits, and universities.
The only reason the Trump administration’s failure to take a stance on the overtime rule is not in the “ugly” section is because it’s currently tied up in litigation and has yet to be implemented. The Trump administration has requested several extensions to determine whether it will appeal the ruling that struck down the overtime rule or not defend the rule in court. The reason for the extensions is to “allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues,” which is a perfect segue to the ugly section.
Nearly all vacancies at the primary federal labor agencies have yet to be filled. To hasten the reversal of the misguided labor and employment regulatory action taken by the Obama administration, the Trump administration needed to quickly nominate and confirm key positions at the Department of Labor (DOL) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). As of today, the crucial position of Labor Secretary and two seats on the NLRB are still unoccupied.
Part of the delay stems from an all-out attack by labor unions and allies against President Trump’s first Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder, who eventually withdrew from consideration. However, the Trump administration has failed to nominate anyone for the NLRB positions and the current Labor Secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, is awaiting Senate confirmation without a date set for a vote.
Despite President Trump’s campaign promises to spur economic growth and job creation, doing so has not been a policy priority so far. During the Obama administration, the DOL alone imposed over $50 billion in regulatory costs on the economy. In order to reduce these burdens, greater attention on reforming U.S. labor and employment policy is crucial. A good start would be to fill these key personnel positions at labor agencies so that they can get to work on repealing numerous roadblocks erected by the previous administration that have discouraged employers from hiring and harmed worker career prospects.