Trump to cut pay raises for government workers

President Trump sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday announcing his intention to cut pay raises for civilian government workers.

In the letter, Trump cited his authority in times of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare” to make adjustments to the 2018 pay schedule for federal employees.

Under the previous plan, workers were scheduled for a 1.9 percent bump. Trump will use his authority to lower that to 1.4 percent.

“We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a sustainable fiscal course,” Trump wrote.

“A pay increase of this magnitude is not warranted, and Federal agency budgets could not accommodate such an increase while still maintaining support for key Federal priorities such as those that advance the safety and security of the American people.”

Pay raises for government workers outside of Washington, D.C., will average only 0.5 percent and will be specified in a coming executive order, Trump said.

The White House did not respond to a question about how much the government would save from the action or whether it had discussed the matter with offices on Capitol Hill.

Trump will maintain the 2.1 percent pay increase for members of the military.

“I strongly support our men and women in uniform, who are the greatest fighting force in the world and the guardians of American freedom,” Trump wrote. “As our country continues to recover from serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, we must work to rebuild our military’s readiness and capabilities.”

[The Hill]

Trump Pulls Back Obama-Era Protections For Women Workers

With little notice, President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that advocates say rolls back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Tuesday’s “Equal Pay Day” — which highlights the wage disparity between men and women — is the perfect time to draw more attention to the president’s action, activists say.

On March 27, Trump revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order then-President Barack Obama put in place to ensure that companies with federal contracts comply with 14 labor and civil rights laws. The Fair Pay order was put in place after a 2010 Government Accountability Office investigation showed that companies with rampant violations were being awarded millions in federal contracts.

In an attempt to keep the worst violators from receiving taxpayer dollars, the Fair Pay order included two rules that impacted women workers: paycheck transparency and a ban on forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination claims.

Noreen Farrell, director of the anti-sex discrimination law firm Equal Rights Advocates, said Trump went “on the attack against workers and taxpayers.”

“We have an executive order that essentially forces women to pay to keep companies in business that discrimination against them, with their own tax dollars,” said Farrell. “It’s an outrage.”

Out of the 50 worst wage theft violators that GAO examined between 2005-2009, 60 percent had been awarded federal contracts after being penalized by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Similar violation rates were tracked through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Labor Relations Board.

But the research did not reveal much about sexual harassment or sexual assault claims. That’s because forced arbitration clauses — also sometimes called “cover-up clauses” by critics — are commonly used to keep sex discrimination claims out of the courts and off the public record.

“Arbitrations are private proceedings with secret filings and private attorneys, and they often help hide sexual harassment claims,” said Maya Raghu, Director of Workplace Equality at the National Women’s Law Center. “It can silence victims. They may feel afraid of coming forward because they might think they are the only one, or fear retaliation.”

Mandatory arbitration clauses are increasingly used in employment contracts, said Raghu, who added that banning the process was an important step forward for victims of workplace harassment or assault.

Many learned about forced arbitration clauses for the first time just last year through the Fox News sexual harassment case. Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson dodged her own contract’s arbitration clause by directly suing former CEO Roger Ailes rather than the company. Ailes’ lawyers accused Carlson of breaching her contract, and pressed for the private arbitration to try to keep the story out of courts and the public record.

A new lawsuit filed Monday by Fox News commentator Julie Roginsky joined a growing list of accusations against Ailes, and claims Roginsky faced retaliation “because of plaintiff’s refusal to malign Gretchen Carlson and join ‘Team Roger’ when Carlson sued Ailes,” NPR reported.

By overturning the Fair Pay order, Trump made it possible for businesses with federal contracts to continue forcing sexual harassment cases like Carlson’s into secret proceedings — where the public, and other employees, may never find out about rampant sex discrimination claims at a company.

After the Fox News sexual harassment problem came to light, Carlson testified before Congress about forced arbitration — and Senators Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin and Al Franken wrote to major arbitration companies to ask for information on the amount of secret arbitration proceedings involving sexual harassment and discrimination.

“If Ms. Carlson had followed Mr. Ailes’s reading of her contract, her colleagues might never have learned that she was fighting back,” read the August 2016 letter. “They might never have followed her example; Roger Ailes might never have been exposed; and Fox News might never have been forced to change its behavior. Decades of alleged abuse — harassment that should disgust and astound any reasonable person — could have been allowed to continue.”

Blumenthal told NBC News that Trump’s overturning the Fair Pay order sends women’s rights in the workplace back “to a time best left to ‘Mad Men.'”

“These coverup clauses render people voiceless — forcing them to suffer in silence, suppressing justice, and allowing others to fall victim in the future,” said Blumenthal. “At a time when the fight for equal pay continues, Trump also moved to eliminate paycheck transparency and leave workers to negotiate in the dark.”

The other result of Trump’s executive order on federal contractors was lifting a mandate on paycheck transparency, or requiring employers to detail earnings, pay scales, salaries, and other details. The Fair Pay order Trump overturned was one of the few ways to ensure companies were paying women workers equally to their male colleagues.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s 2016 analysis of federal labor statistics, the median wage for U.S. women is about 16.8 percent less than the median for men — with women making about 83 cents to a man’s dollar. According to economist Elise Gould, that’s a gap that only increases as women become more educated and climb the corporate ladder.

“At the bottom, there’s just so far down women’s wages can go. They are protected by some degree by the minimum wage,” said Gould. “But as you move up, women are not occupying places at the top the way men are. The wage gap at the top is much larger.”

Wal-Mart is one example of how the wage gap works like an inverted pyramid. According to statistical data provided in Farrell’s class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart, women in lower-paying hourly jobs at the company made $1,100 less per year than men in the same jobs. But women with salaried positions were paid $14,500 less per year than their male coworkers.

The Fair Pay order made employers submit salary details to the government that would show massive wage gaps like Wal-Mart’s. It also made employers show overtime and deductions on paychecks so workers could make sure they were being paid exactly as they were supposed to.

The original class action case against Wal-Mart was dismissed by the Supreme Court. But Farrell told NBC News that Dukes v. Wal-Mart was a victory in its own right.

“The very public nature of that case prompted many changes by Wal-Mart including its pay and equity policies,” said Farrell of the law firm Equal Rights Advocates.

“No one, including workers at Wal-Mart, would have understood the issues in that case had there been forced arbitration clauses,” Farrell added, “Which would have kept all of those claims in secret.”

For the majority of workers, especially at low-wages, there isn’t an option to work around an arbitration clause the way that Carlson did with Fox News and Ailes.

“Unless you’re suing a deep-pocketed CEO, suing an individual for sexual harassment is not going to be the same as putting the employer on the hook for liability,” said Farrell. “You usually don’t get the same damages or results.”

(h/t NBC News)

 

After Being Called Out Donald Trump Flip-Flips on Raising Federal Minimum Wage, Then Lies

Donald Trump says he backs raising the minimum wage to $10 per hour and that states should decide.

“Well, I would leave it and raise it somewhat,” the GOP presidential nominee told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor” on Tuesday.

“You need to help people, and I know it’s not very Republican to say, but you need to help people,” he added.

“I would say $10, but with the understanding that somebody like me is going to bring back jobs, I don’t want people to be in that $10 category for very long. But the thing is, Bill, let the states make the deal. They’re not doing that for the most part.”Trump also accused former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders of distorting his position on the issue.

“When Bernie Sanders said that I want to go less than what the minimum wage — I mean honestly, Bill, these people are lying so much and every fact checker said Trump never said that,” he said. “I never did say it. I believe it should be raised.”

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

However, Trump’s claim that he never wanted to go less then the minimum wage is a complete and total lie and we have the videos to prove it.

Trump’s public comments regarding wages being too high started in August, 2015 when during a speech he told Michigan auto workers right to their faces that they make too much money.

He said U.S. automakers could shift production away from Michigan to communities where autoworkers would make less. “You can go to different parts of the United States and then ultimately you’d do full-circle — you’ll come back to Michigan because those guys are going to want their jobs back even if it is less.

Then during the 4th GOP debate on November 10th, 2015, Trump said he would lower the minimum wage during a Republican debate:

Taxes too high, wages too high.

And then on again on November 11th, 2015 during an interview with Fox News, Trump went the extra step to explain why wages are too high:

Whether it’s taxes or wages, if they’re too high we’re not going to be able to compete with other countries.

Is anyone really surprised that a billionaire businessman wants to keep American worker’s wages low?

Media

Trump Flip-Flops on Raising the Minimum Wage

In a reversal, Donald Trump expressed openness to raising the federal minimum wage during an interview on Wednesday.

“I’m looking at that, I’m very different from most Republicans,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee told CNN Wednesday about the prospect of increasing wages.

You have to have something you can live on. But what I ‘m really looking to do is get people great jobs so they make much more money than that, much more money than the $15.

The federal minimum wage is $7.25, but labor groups have been pushing for it to be raised to $15.

During a November debate, Trump voiced opposition to raising the minimum wage.

“I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” he said during the debate.

During a November appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump said the current minimum wage is too high and was slowing job growth.

“We have to become competitive with the world. Our taxes are too high, our wages are too high, everything is too high,” he said. “What’s going to happen is now people are going to start firing people.”

On Wednesday, Trump did caution that lawmakers would have to be careful not to raise the minimum too much.

“If you start playing around too much with that lower level number, you are not going to be competitive,” he said, before reiterating that he’s “open to doing something” with the federal minimum wage.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton backs a $12 minimum wage and has supported local attempts to push for $15 per hour; her rival, Bernie Sanders, supports a $15 federal minimum wage.

Republicans at large are against raising that number. Rick Santorum is the only GOP presidential candidate who backed raising the minimum wage. Ben Carson briefly signaled openness before walking that back.

(h/t The Hill)

Reality

Just a few months ago Trump said he would lower the minimum wage during a Republican debate:

Taxes too high, wages too high.

And again on Fox News he doubled-down:

Whether it’s taxes or wages, if they’re too high we’re not going to be able to compete with other countries.

And then he told auto workers right to their faces that they make too much money.

Media

Trump Doubles Down on Wages Too High

Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that the U.S. must keep wages low in order to compete with other countries, one day after he dug in on his assertion that “wages are too high” in America. Speaking to Fox News Trump said:

“Whether it’s taxes or wages, if they’re too high we’re not going to be able to compete with other countries.”

Trump first said he believes wages are “too high” during Tuesday night’s Republican debate, undercutting the populist tone Trump has struck on the campaign trail as he’s called for protecting U.S. manufacturing jobs from outsourcing and immigration.

Trump’s comments about wages being “too high” came in response to a debate question about raising the minimum wage, which Trump and other GOP candidates said they oppose.

(h/t CNN)

Reality

Is anyone really surprised that a billionaire businessman wants to keep wages low?

According to the Pew Research Center, real wages are not at all high and instead have been stagnant for decades. This means we’ve seen bigger paychecks, but that paycheck goes far less than before when buying stuff.

Media

Fox and Friends

 

Trump Declares Wages Are ‘Too High’

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump opened the 4th primetime GOP debate by suggesting that Americans’ wages are “too high” and that it’s part of a problem with the country’s competitiveness.

“Taxes too high, wages too high,” he said, responding to a question about New York state’s decision to raise the minimum wage for certain workers to $15. “We’re not going to be able to compete against the world.”

Trump rejected calls to raise the minimum wage. His rival for pole position in the Republican primary, Ben Carson, agreed.

“I would not raise it specifically because I’m interested in making sure that people are able to enter the job market and take advantage of opportunities,” he said.

Trump later doubled-down on his wage too high stance and also explained it right to the faces of auto workers.

(h/t Politico)

Reality

Is anyone really surprised that a billionaire businessman wants to keep wages low?

According to the Pew Research Center, real wages are not at all high and instead have been stagnant for decades. This means we’ve seen bigger paychecks, but that paycheck goes far less than before when buying stuff.

Media