Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.
As a workers’ compensation attorney, I tend to view current events through the prism of their effect on workers and more specifically injured workers. The Trump Administration has rolled back his predecessor’s strides in environment, labor and finance, civil rights, health care, government reform, immigration, and education. I would like to specifically address reverses in worker and consumer safety. The Washington Post updated how Trump is rolling back Obama’s legacy through 16 executive actions, 74 cabinet level agency decisions, 14 congressional review acts, and a piece of new legislation.
- Specifically, in terms of worker and consumer safety, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is revising a mining inspection rule published three days after Obama left office by allowing examiners to do their reviews while miners are working letting companies not record hazardous conditions if they are immediately corrected.
- The Trump Administration Interior Department ordered the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to stop a study of health risks for residents near surface mining operations in the Appalachians.
- The EPA delayed implementing a rule that would have changed how agricultural workers are protected from pesticides.
- The EPA is delaying implementation of rule to require manufacturers to label formaldehyde and composite wood products.
- A Coast Guard plan to regulate firefighting systems on tanker ships and helipads on offshore platforms was withdrawn.
- Additionally, a Coast Guard rule that would have required all ships and berths to maintain equipment and technical systems for safety was withdrawn.
- OSHA delayed implementing a rule regulating construction worker exposure to silica (linked to lung disease and cancer).
- The House and Senate passed a bill signed by President Trump eliminating worker safety regulations aiming to track and reduce workplace injuries and death.
- The Labor Department removed from its agenda a proposal to stiffen exposure standards for chemical solvents.
- The Labor Department cancelled plans to lower permissible exposure limits for some substances that had been set in 1971 and cancelled plans to revoke obsolete permissible exposure limits for other substances.
- The Labor Department removed from its agenda a proposal to tighten exposure standards for styrene, a chemical used in plastics identified as a carcinogen.
This laundry list of anti-worker executive actions, Cabinet-level agency decisions and Congressional review acts reveals the hypocrisy of Trump’s campaign promises to help working families. Rather, it reveals his completely anti-worker policy.
Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.
In theory, the changes to immigration policy proposed by President Trump shouldn’t impact workers compensation in Nebraska. Workers compensation laws are state laws and Nebraska, like most states, awards workers compensation benefits regardless of immigration status.
But theory is one things and reality is another.
Mike Elk of Payday Report recently ran an article detailing that workplace deaths among Latinos were the highest in 2015 than they had been since 2007. This spike was attributed in part to aggressive immigration enforcement by the Obama administration which immigrant advocates believed made workers afraid to speak out about working conditions over fear of deportation.
During the Obama administration tougher immigration policies were at least coupled with tougher and even innovative workplace safety enforcement by OSHA. In the Trump era, workplace safety enforcement is expected to be curtailed and new OSHA rules are poised to be rolled back.
Immigration and workers compensation is often thought of in the context of Mexicans and central Americans working in industries like meatpacking and construction. This is a misconception, the meatpacking industry in Nebraska and elsewhere employs an uncounted but significant number of Somali workers. Somalis are one of seven nationalities banned from entering the United States under President Trump’s order. Ironically Somalis were recruited heavily into meatpacking work after raids during the Bush administration lead to the deportation of Latino meatpacking workers. Somalis had refugee status so there were few questions about their immigration status or eligibility to work legally. Under the new executive order, their immigration status is less secure and they may be less likely to speak out about working conditions.
A smaller but growing number of Cubans are coming to Nebraska for meatpacking work as well. Like Somalis, Cubans are deemed to be refugees so their ability to work lawfully is not a question for employers. However in the waning days of Obama administration, President Obama ended automatic refugee status for Cubans in an effort to normalize relationship with the Castro regime. There was little public outcry over this order like there was for the so-called Muslim Ban. However because of an executive order, Cuban nationals working in Nebraska may be less inclined to speak out about working conditions or claim workers compensation benefits due to newfound uncertainty over their immigration status.
No one — whether bipartisan or partisan — knows what Donald Trump will say today ortomorrow. Just last week it was the “Mexican judge” who deigned to rule against Trump’s interests. And “my African American.” This week he’ll say something equally as outrageous. Why? Because his popularity is based on celebrity, not substance…and he is a near – if not total – megalomaniac. To believe he has the interest of any person — the poor, the rich, the in-between — is to miss this. He is acting on behalf of Donald Trump and Donald Trump only. He believes only Donald Trump and Donald Trump only. He’ll follow only Donald Trump and Donald Trump only. (It’s against my disdain of the guy to use his name so much — he likes that people use his name.)
Trump throws rallies in metro areas where there is a large potential crowd. Better, he promises to skewer any number of discreet, insular minority groups. People listen and respond to someone like Donald Trump telling them to fear those folks different than them. That formula’s worked forever. Hitler had his Jews, gays, Gypsies, etc. Tailergunner Joe McCarthy and his ilk had his “pinkoes,” “commies” and “fellow travelers.” California and other entities had those of Japanese descent in 1941, before they had those good Americans uprooted and sent to camps in vacation spots like Utah.
When one takes a group and say it’s so filled with “rapists” or “jihadis” that we must act toward the whole group like the whole group is one person, then will act out. They will discriminate against the whole group of people. And when one does that long enough you will get violent, discriminatory acts. That’s what Trump in fact has caused — fights on the fringes of his rallies between his disciples and others who don’t agree with the idea that we can depict Mexicans (even if not documented) and Muslims (even if they believe the same faith as some crazy jihadis) and other minorities as less than deserving of rights.
Trump is attracting people by the same fear tactics used by Hitler, McCarthy and FDR (and his actions against American-Japanese). He can’t win because — thank God — we have a reasonably strong economy and some prosperity provided by Mr. President Barak Obama. Trump doesn’t have a completely destitute people (1930’s Germany), a people scared to its core by communism from a USSR who’d just taken over all eastern Europe and the new Red China; or a war frenzy. Trump will be gone in December 2016.