Donald Trump won the presidential election by promising to bring back jobs that American workers lost because of new technologies and globalization, especially in the Rust Belt. Now that he is in power, the workers’ future looks bleak, considering what the president-elect and his team are up to.
The fact that Trump’s labor sympathies have very short legs became clear when Carrier union leader Chuck Jones refused to take part in the president-elect and the company’s “saved jobs” show. Jones questioned the inflated job numbers that, according to the Republican, were prevented to go to Mexico.
By now it is obvious that nothing rattles the next president more than being corrected when he lies. Hence his Twitter reaction, which reflected the worst stereotype an entrepreneur can have about workers. He blamed union leaders for outsourced jobs, urging them to “spend more time working — less time talking.” It is unthinkable that Trump would have expressed himself in such a way during a campaign that helped him win 40% of union voters.
If there were any lingering doubts about the incoming Government’s vision about the working class, they should be put to rest with the designation of the next labor secretary, Andy Puzder. There is a profound irony in the fact that the person in charge of regulating salaries, safety and preventing discrimination comes from the fast food industry.
Puzder, chief executive of Carl’s Jr., is a source of worry after the example he set at his company, which has the less generous 401(k) plan in the industry: It has no employer contribution, the higher administration costs, and is considered the one with lower benefits.
The next labor secretary opposes rules expanding eligibility for overtime pay, raising the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour and paid sick leave. His opposition to Obamacare stems from the mandate and rising premiums that, he said, harm restaurants because people have less money to spend dining out.
Puzder favors a legalization for immigrants, but his interest is based in cheap labor with no rights or protection.
This pick has not the workers’ welfare in mind. It is the reaffirmation of a philosophy in which they are no more than a cog in a system that does not value them and wants to have them tied up under the threat of losing their job if they don’t accept their crumbs.