In his first year, President Trump launched an unprecedented attack on regulations, rolling back countless rules that protected workers, consumers, public health, and the environment. A new report from EPI’s Perkins Project on Worker Rights and Wages details Trump and Congress’s most egregious deregulatory actions affecting working people—actions that have advantaged corporate interests and the wealthy at the expense of low- and middle-income workers. The report outlines the Trump administration and congressional Republicans’ efforts to dismantle regulations and examines the overall effect of regulations on our economy.
“Ultimately, regulations are just the rules of the game,” said EPI Policy Director Heidi Shierholz. “By rolling back regulations that protect workers’ health, safety, and wages, President Trump is simply rigging the rules to benefit corporations and the wealthy.”
Opponents of regulations routinely highlight only the costs associated with a particular rule, while ignoring its benefits—alleging that all regulations cost jobs and are a burden for employers. However, the authors cite research showing that federal regulations provide an overall net benefit to the economy, and indeed have a modestly positive or neutral effect on employment. Moreover, time after time, working families lose as these regulations are dismantled.
“As we learned during the Great Recession, it is dangerous to assume that corporations and Wall Street will police themselves,” said EPI Associate Labor Counsel Marni von Wilpert. “Working peopled deserve a fair economic system, with rules that serve their interests by protecting their health, safety, and paychecks. High-road employers who create good, safe, well-paying jobs should also be protected from greedy employers who break the rules at the expense of America’s workers.”
Among the regulations eliminated, rolled back, or delayed by the Trump administration are rules that expanded workers’ access to overtime pay, required federal contractors to disclose labor law violations, required employers to keep accurate records of workplace injuries, protected workers from harmful exposure to silica and beryllium, made it easier for people to save for retirement, and made the union election process fairer and more transparent. The Trump administration has also proposed changes to rules which would allow employers to legally pocket workers’ tips, expose farmworkers to the harmful effects of pesticide, and dangerously increase the line speeds of poultry plants. All told, this agenda amounts to a wholesale attack on working people and their families.