EXCLUSIVE: Obama’s Major Labor Policy Victories Are Turning Into Losses Under Trump

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Obama administration efforts to change labor policies through executive actions are being unraveled by legal and political forces, according to a new report.

The right-leaning American Action Forum (AAF) found that five major policies changes implemented by the Obama administration have been challenged by the courts, the Trump administration and Congress.

“Through multiple executive actions, the Obama Administration attempted to raise wages and empower collective bargaining,” Ben Gitis, AAF’s labor policy director, wrote in the report to be released Wednesday.

“Each of the five regulations highlighted in this report, however, has been repealed in the courts, has been reversed by the Trump Administration, or faces an uncertain future in Congress,” Gitis wrote.

The Obama administration, like in many other areas, used executive actions to make sweeping changes to federal labor policy.

Gitis examined the status of Obama-era rules for overtime pay, collective bargaining, forming unions and getting labor law advice. All of them have been undone or face potential legislative repeal.

For example, a federal court in August struck down a 2016 Labor Department rule to expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay. The rule had been blocked for about a year after 21 states and some business groups brought suit.

The Trump administration is currently rewriting the overtime rule, which is expected to increase the overtime pay income threshold, Gitis wrote — just not by as much as the Obama administration did.

In another case, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) broadened the definition of a “joint employer” to give unions greater leverage in collective bargaining agreements.

Trump administration officials rescinded the joint employer rule in June, and it is also being reviewed by the courts. Congress is debating legislation to prevent the NLRB from ever issuing the rule again, Gitis noted.

“Perhaps rather than unilaterally enacting misguided regulations, the new Administration would most effectively help the labor force by working with Congress to enact bills that would increase economic growth, spur job creation, and raise wages,” he wrote.

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