In the week leading up to Labor Day, President Donald Trump’s vicious anti-worker agenda has been on full display: In addition to abruptly canceling a modest pay raise for around two million public employees on Thursday, Trump also signed a retirement savings executive order that was denounced as a gift to Wall Street and “a cruel joke on American workers” facing a retirement income crisis.
Yet, as if none of these latest attacks on American workers took place, the White House issued its annual Presidential Labor Day Proclamation late Friday, touting what it describes as Trump’s “historic action to advance prosperity for the American worker.”
But while the Trump administration may be working hard to obscure its own disastrous anti-worker record—conveniently ignoring the fact that wages for most workers are declining as the obscenely rich continue to get richer—a new Labor Day report by Public Citizen out last week provides uncomfortable truths that Trump and his plutocratic advisers are attempting to erase from history.
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“Trump has betrayed America’s workforce, sacrificing lives at the altar of industry profits,” Shanna Devine, worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the new report, said in a statement.
As the consumer advocacy group’s new report (pdf) details, Trump has effectively made the anti-worker agenda of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce official administration policy by delaying and rolling back key regulations that protect workers from injuries on the job and shield them from exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals and metals like beryllium.
#LaborDay report: Trump has betrayed his promise to protect American workers.
The administration has rolled back long-awaited regulations, thrown OSHA into a staffing crisis, cut back on workplace inspections and hampered enforcement activity. https://t.co/VQnCo3lHgJ pic.twitter.com/7jVsFO1FEi
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) August 31, 2018
— Public Citizen (@Public_Citizen) August 30, 2018
“The Trump administration has systematically dismantled fundamental health and safety protections, and undermined the very agency tasked with safeguarding America’s workforce,” Devine wrote, referring to Trump’s evisceration of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has been left with major workplace inspector vacancies.
In addition to gutting OSHA, Public Citizen notes that, at the behest of the business lobby, the Trump White House has rolled back rules that required companies to keep accurate and transparent records regarding on-the-job injuries and scaled back enforcement actions against law-violating corporations.
“Despite the benefits of regulations for workers and the U.S. economy at large,” Devine notes, “the Trump administration has repeatedly acted as a mouth piece for industry and argued that regulations place an unfair burden on the economy and businesses.”
“There are many hazards that OSHA could address if the administration were not so intent on dismantling the regulatory system,” Public Citizen adds. “For instance, it could protect workers from rising temperatures, healthcare employees from injuries related to handling patients, and meatpacking workers from excessive line speeds. OSHA has recognized each of these examples as posing threats to workers.”
But the Trump administration has either refused to act or worked to undermine regulations aimed at addressing these hazards.
So, far from living up to his promise to “protect” and “fight for” American workers as his sanitized Labor Day Proclamation suggests, Public Citizen concludes that Trump “has systematically dismantled worker safeguards, while failing to address growing hazards, signaling to workers: drop dead.”