On November 3, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board issued a Decision and Order in Trump Ruffin Commercial, LLC, finding that the Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas unlawfully refused to bargain with UNITE HERE International Union after the union won a representation election among the Hotel’s housekeeping, food and beverage and guest service employees.
….In other news, just five days later, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States with the pledges to Make America Great Again, to cultivate more good paying jobs for Americans and to undo much of the agenda of the Obama administration.
Over the past several Presidential transitions, the Human Resources community has become accustomed to the swinging pendulum in the areas of labor and employment law. We know change is coming. We’re just not always sure what exactly it will involve. Everyone remembers the threat of unions being certified on the basis of a card check, right? That didn’t happen in 2009, but of course quickie elections did. So making specific predictions on Inauguration Day can be dangerous. But as the new Administration now has officially taken over, we have to at least try.
Here’s an easy one: President Trump is unlikely to be appointing what we would call traditional candidates to run the departments and agencies that regulate the American workplace. While he has nominated some people who have significant governmental service on their resumes, the current list includes a fair share of people with no such experience – – CEOs, philanthropists, investment bankers, a neurosurgeon, even the co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment. These appointments do not signal “business as usual” for the federal government, nor did the President who, in his inaugural address, pledged to transfer power from Washington back to the American people.
At first blush, this would portend wholesale rollback of workplace regulations. Indeed, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, has been a critic of substantially increasing the minimum wage and a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s efforts to make more workers eligible for overtime pay. And critics have noted similar opposition by other nominees to what has been the recent mission or focus of the agency that they may be leading (See Governor Rick Perry and Betsy DeVos).
But here’s the rub: a substantial portion of President Trump’s electoral base of support likely will not support the pendulum swinging back in ways that make their workplaces less safe or adversely impact their earnings. So…this will be a bit more complicated.
What can we say now in January 2017 with confidence?
- We’re not going to get back all of that time we spent learning the ever changing minutiae of the Affordable Care Act. But we can certainly anticipate that there will be new regulation impacting employer provided health insurance.
- We will see change in leadership at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The current EEOC Chair’s term will end in July 2017, and the new Chair will likely fill the now vacant EEOC General Counsel position. That new leadership is less likely to retain the current EEOC’s focus upon pay equity issues and seeking to expand gender identity and sexual orientation protections through selective litigation. And let’s not forget the agency’s proposed regulations that would require employers to provide compensation data and hours for all employees as part of the EEO-1 reporting process. We think that it is unlikely that these requirements will become effective in March 2018, as currently planned.
- The NLRB will be looking at the bureaucratic version of Extreme Home Makeover. Readers of our Annual NLRB Year in Review will recall that the Obama Board has involved itself in everything from revising the representation election timeline, to creating rights to use your email system for organizing activity to uncovering the dastardly hidden meaning of the most innocuous provisions of your employee handbook. They expanded the concept of joint employment to the point you might have to sit at the bargaining table to discuss wages, benefits and working conditions of people who are not even your employees. And then when they were done with that, they even tried to get involved in college football! The party’s soon over at the Board. President Trump will have the opportunity to fill two current Member vacancies on the Board as soon as he gets down to work. More critically, by November he will have the opportunity to replace NLRB General Counsel Richard Griffin Jr., an Obama appointee, former union lawyer and spearhead for most of the NLRB’s most aggressive initiatives.
- OSHA recordkeeping requirements should be reduced. We know how this has been an area of focus over the past 8 years and has caused more work for employers. And the new silica rules and anti-retaliation rules that seek to effectively prohibit mandatory post-accident drug testing and safety incentive programs may soon be on the cutting room floor.
So, that’s enough prognostication on Day 1 of the Trump Administration. Stay tuned!