Trump Claims He’s Pro-Worker. But His Labor Board Is Trying to Destroy Worker Organizing.Roundup
tags: labor, Donald Trump, Wagner Act, public sector unions, National Labor Relations Board
Paul Prescod is a high school social studies teacher and member of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Donald Trump declared that “our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker.” Despite his populist posturing, any sober assessment of Trump’s first term will show that it has been an all-out assault on labor.
Trump has ruthlessly attacked federal workers, granted more tax cuts for the rich, and severely weakened the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and he is now undermining Social Security. Campaign promises such as a massive infrastructure project, minimum-wage hike, and an overhaul of the health care system have barely even been attempted.
The National Labor Relations Board’s actions are the most striking example of his anti-worker agenda. Trump has appointed four Republicans to the board, none of whom have any experience actually representing workers or unions. Instead, all of these board members previously held careers defending corporate interests. At the head of the board is the general counsel, whom workers depend on to actually prosecute cases. Trump’s pick for general counsel was Peter Robb, a former management lawyer.
The Wagner Act of 1935, the first iteration of the National Labor Relations Act, established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as an agency to protect workers’ rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining. Trump has rapidly turned an agency designed to serve workers’ interests into another tool of corporate power.
The Trump board has dutifully pursued a corporate wish list of ten items put out by the Chamber of Commerce in early 2017. They have already taken action on all ten. Some of these priorities include the delaying of union elections, restricting the ability of employees to communicate about workplace issues, and enhancing the ability of employers to determine bargaining units.
We shouldn’t fetishize labor law. Deep organizing and shop-floor power is what’s needed to rebuild the labor movement and working people’s capacities to fight back. However, these laws still make a real difference in shaping the barriers to the revitalization we seek. The NLRB under Trump is on a determined mission to destroy the last vestiges of organized power working people have left.
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