Will Workplace Safety Survive A Trump Presidency?

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly promised to bring back U.S. factory jobs. The message resonated with blue-collar workers and Trump’s success is credited, in large part, to voters who have seen their jobs disappear and livelihoods diminish as U.S. manufacturing companies moved toward automation or just plain moved—to places with lower labor costs, like Mexico. Trump also campaigned on a promise to eliminate regulations, a position now central to his incoming administration’s policies.

Trump’s transition team has said he will introduce a moratorium on new regulations and cancel executive orders and regulations “that kill jobs and bloat government.”

We don’t yet know his picks to head the Department of Labor or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but those reported under consideration for Secretary of Labor have expressed opposition to Obama administration policies, such as paid family leave and requirements widely considered to increase pay equityfor women and workers of color.

How does Trump’s promise to reduce and eliminate regulations square with creating good, living-wage jobs? How will his presidency affect workplace health and safety? What will happen to the gains made during the Obama administration?

“Obviously the landscape has shifted dramatically and the position that we’re in and the challenges that we’re going to be facing are monumental. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” said Peg Seminario, safety and health director at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

She expects the Trump administration “will use the full range of its executive authority to reverse, weaken or appeal any of the major rules that have come out of the agencies.” That said, while an incoming administration can simply undo executive orders and indefinitely delay rules not yet in effect, existing rules and laws must be changed through the same processes that created them. Still, Seminario expects Congress will try to use the Congressional Review Act. This law, which has only been used once in 20 years, can be used to stop regulations the previous administration issued after May 30.




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