On the U.S. Labor Department’s Spring Regulatory Agenda

Following is a statement from Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project:

“In the Spring Regulatory Agenda released by the U.S. Department of Labor today, the Trump administration continues its march toward repealing safeguards designed to protect the rights of workers to receive the wages they are owed, to be safe on the job, and to enjoy retirement security.

“For a president who promised in his inaugural speech that every decision he made would be to benefit our nation’s workers, the DOL’s Spring Regulatory Agenda is just another in a long string of broken promises to working people.

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration seems determined to weaken an Obama-era regulation requiring injury and illness reporting, and to repeal other important protections that safeguard workers’ health and lives on the job.  Notably, OSHA continues to delay any action on rules to protect workers from the hazards of workplace violence, the second leading cause of workplace deaths in 2016.

“OSHA’s regulatory failures are coupled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule that would increase job hazards and worker injuries in meatpacking plants, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule that would weaken and revoke protections for farmworkers and landscapers who handle the most toxic pesticides (for example, by lowering age restrictions to allow children to apply these pesticides).  These actions demonstrate a shocking disregard for the health and safety of our nation’s workers and an utter lack of commitment to safeguarding against easily preventable injuries and deaths.

“NELP shares the DOL’s goal of job training for teens through apprenticeships, but we urge the agency to proceed with caution in its proposal to make it easier for 16- and 17-year-olds to work in ‘hazardous occupations.’ The DOL has a responsibility to safeguard the health and well-being of all workers, especially children.

“Proposals from the Wage and Hour Division continue to threaten the right of workers to earn a decent living from their labor.  First, WHD will press forward with weakening the overtime pay protections the Obama administration adopted.  In addition, we are deeply concerned that the DOL rulemaking regarding what constitutes the “regular pay rate” under the Fair Labor Standards Act will give outsized influence to corporate lobbyists who have long advocated loopholes allowing employers to pay workers less overtime than that to which they are entitled.

“The DOL also seems determined to undermine the protections of the Affordable Care Act by allowing ‘association health plans’ to offer workers substandard health insurance that will not adequately provide for their medical needs.  It is truly sad to see DOL, the agency charged with promoting the welfare of the nation’s workers, become a pawn in the Trump administration’s quest to destroy the ACA for petty partisan purposes. Meanwhile, DOL has deprioritized any efforts to protect retirement savers from harmful conflicts of interests.

“NELP will continue to fight any and all attempts to weaken important safeguards that workers depend on to protect their lives and livelihoods on the job.”

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