President Trump’s Policies Are Hurting American Workers

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    On the campaign trail and in office, President Donald Trump has promised to fight for the American worker. Yet since he took office in January 2017, President Trump’s actions have repeatedly betrayed this promise. His administration has rolled back protections to ensure that American workers can be safe on the job, receive fair pay and benefits, save for retirement, access high-quality training programs, have a voice in their workplace, and not be discriminated against at work.

    To hold President Trump accountable, the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s American Worker Project is tracking every action the president takes to weaken job protections for Americans.

    Our list includes legislation and orders signed by the president; procedural changes and regulations enacted or proposed by his administration; and official statements of policy, such as the president’s proposed budget. The list does not include political nominations and appointments of individuals with records of enacting anti-worker policies, since these actions happened outside their role in the administration.

    We will be updating this page periodically to include new anti-worker policies enacted by the administration. Policies below are listed in reverse chronological order, with the newest actions listed first. This page was last updated on August 29, 2018.

    1. Relaxing OSHA’s injury and illness reporting standards

    On July 27, 2018, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced plans to rescind an Obama-era regulation that required large employers or employers of workers in dangerous occupations to submit detailed logs of workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA. The new rule would mean that employers are only on the hook for revealing the number of workplace injuries and days of work missed due to illness and injury, rather than reporting the nature and severity of the incident. The new rule will limit the ability of OSHA to identify trends in workplace injuries and inform the regulations and protections with real data.

    2. Rolling back child labor laws

    On July 14, 2018, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) submitted proposed regulations to the White House that relax rules that limit the amount of time spent by 16- and 17-year-old apprentices working in hazardous contexts such as roofing and logging. If finalized, this rule would increase teenage workers’ exposure to heavy machinery and other workplace risk factors. The rule is currently under consideration by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and is slated for publication for public comment in fall 2018. Roofing is one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the country, with a fatality rate of 31.8 per 100,000 workers.

    3. Erecting barriers for home care workers who want to support their union

    On July 12, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a notice of proposed rule-making that threatens to further weaken public sector unions. The proposed rule would prevent independent providers of home care services from authorizing automatic dues deductions from the payments they receive from the state Medicaid authorities. This move will prevent hundreds of thousands of union members from easily paying their dues, making it more difficult for workers to join together in strong unions to improve their working conditions and the quality of care. The Trump administration is pushing this regulatory change through with little analysis or deliberation, permitting just 30 days for comments, rather than the typical 60 days. Home care workers are in high demand, with more than 650,000 people on waitlists for home- and community-based Medicaid services. A survey by the National Employment Law Project found that unionized home care workers make about $2 per hour more than their nonunion counterparts. These raises have been associated with reduced turnover in the home care workforce.

    4. Proposing an inadequate family leave plan

    The president’s adviser and daughter, Ivanka Trump, published an op-ed on July 11, 2018, calling for bipartisan paid family leave legislation. Teaming up with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), she unveiled the proposal a month later. The plan would permit workers to borrow from their Social Security benefits to support their growing families when they take parental leave. Under this plan, workers may delay retirement in order to give their child a strong start to life. The Urban Institute estimates that under this plan, a worker that takes 12 weeks of parental leave at half their usual pay would have to postpone their retirement by 25 weeks. Because women are still more likely to take parental leave than men, this plan may have a significant adverse impact on women’s ability to retire. As it stands today, women of retirement age are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty than are men in the same age group. Furthermore, the plan does not allow workers to draw on their Social Security to care for a sick family member or recover from an illness themselves. A more comprehensive paid family and medical leave policy would ensure that every worker has the right to care for their children, themselves, and their loved ones without penalizing their retirement security.

    5. Attacking federal workers and their unions

    In May 2018, President Trump issued a series of executive orders that roll back protections for federal employees and their unions. One executive order, issued on May 25, cuts the amount of “official time” workers can use to conduct their union responsibilities. These include vital functions such as assisting co-workers in the grievance process. Moreover, Trump’s executive orders restrict access to union resources by ordering unions to pay rent for the office spaces they set up in federal buildings to assist their members. The Trump administration furthered its restrictions on public sector unions by issuing a notice that it would reinstate a George W. Bush-era regulation that imposed burdensome disclosures on state and regional public sector union offices. By reducing the access workers have to their union and further taxing their resources, these executive actions weaken the collective voice of federal employees.

    Trump’s executive orders also make it easier to fire federal workers. Specifically, the orders limit the time period that employees have to improve their performance to 30 days, directs agencies to use performance rather than seniority when determining who to lay off, and limits the kinds of action that workers may appeal through the grievance process or limit in a collective bargaining agreement.

    On August 25, 2018, a federal district judge ruled that key provisions of these executive orders violate federal law, which stipulates that issues such as termination policy must be negotiated between federal employees’ unions and their employers. The Trump administration is likely to appeal the decision, bringing the case before a federal circuit court.

    6. Undermining the NLRB’s ability to protect workplace democracy

    National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Peter Robb, appointed by President Trump last year, has begun to implement a plan to “streamline” the independent federal agency as outlined in a March 14, 2018, memo. Among other things, Robb plans to change the procedure by which the board processes cases—changes that according to the NLRB Professional Association would reduce the number of cases the NLRB can process and make it more difficult for workers to file charges against employers that violate their right to organize. One part of the 59-point plan involves shifting decisions on disputes raised by union campaigns to district offices, rather than regional offices. Similarly, directors of regional field officers would be placed under the command of district directors. Some board members have raised concerns that the centralization of power would impede the ability of regional offices to conduct their investigations. In the 2017 fiscal year, the NLRB received 19,280 charges of unfair labor practices.

    7. Forgiving employers who violate wage and hour laws

    On March 6, 2018, the Department of Labor announced the Payroll Audit Independent Determination program, which allows employers who violate wage and hour laws to avoid paying penalties by volunteering to investigate themselves. Under this program, businesses calculate the back wages they owe their workers and with DOL supervision pay the money owed without any interest, liquidated damages, or penalties.

    Eleven state attorneys general sent a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to voice their criticism of the program. The letter objects to the omission of interest payment in the remedy, saying that it amounts to an interest-free loan from workers to employers. Furthermore, employers are not required to verify that they are not currently under investigation by state authorities before enrolling—they simply must be unaware of such investigations. Finally, the attorneys general expressed concern that the program would allow employers to pressure workers to waive their right to remedies under stricter state laws as a condition of receiving the back pay to which they are entitled under law.

    8. Weakening workplace safety protections for offshore drilling workers

    On December 29, 2017, the Trump administration published a proposed rule on offshore oil and gas production safety systems that would weaken 2016 protections finalized in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident, which killed 11 workers in 2010. The rollback would eliminate a requirement for third-party inspections of safety equipment, make key safeguards optional, and allow for industry self-policing. A slightly modified version of this rule was proposed on May 11, 2018, but has yet to be finalized.

    9. Signing a tax bill into law that tilts the tax system further against workers

    On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed a tax bill into law, giving massive permanent tax cuts to corporations and only temporary cuts to individuals’ income taxes. In 2027, this will allow the top 1 percent to capture more than 80 percent of the tax cuts, while a majority of families will actually pay more. In fact, due to these corporate tax cuts, in 2019, foreign investors will receive $5 billion more than every working- and middle-class American household in the states that voted for President Trump, combined. The tax bill also provides billions of dollars in cuts to owners of pass-through businesses, which will result in wage earners paying higher taxes than self-employed business owners with comparable earnings. Analysis from Adam Looney at the Brookings Institution finds that an employee earning $65,000 per year would end up with 4 percent less after-tax income than a self-employed person earning the same amount.

    10. Limiting workers’ ability to decide with whom they want to form a union

    Since 2011, workers wanting to form a union have had more power to set the boundaries of their own bargaining unit—or group of employees represented by a union. If employers contested workers’ decisions, they were required to prove that any additions to the unit shared an “overwhelming community of interest.” This protected workers’ rights to join together in a group of their own choosing. On December 15, 2017, President Trump’s NLRB appointees sided with corporate interests and overruled the 2011 decision, making it easier for employers to manipulate bargaining units by adding in workers they feel would oppose the union.

    11. Making it harder for workers to bargain with the companies that influence their working conditions

    On December 14, 2017, President Trump’s NLRB appointees joined a 3-2 decision that will make it harder for workers to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. The previous joint employer standard—put forth in the Browning-Ferris Industries case—was a little-used but powerful tool that helped ensure that the growing number of U.S. workers employed by temporary help agencies, labor subcontractors, and franchises were able to exercise their right to form a union. Under the NLRB’s ruling in Hy-Brand Industrial Contractors, it will be easier for corporations that influence their workers’ terms and conditions to shirk the responsibility to bargain. This decision was vacated on February 26, 2018, due to member William Emanuel’s conflict of interest in the case. However, the NLRB announced on May 9, 2018, that it is considering proposing a new rule on the joint employer standard, expected by some analysts to favor employers. While 16 percent of American workers are now employed in these and other sorts of precarious work, they are often subject to poor working conditions.

    12. Beginning the process to roll back rules that modernized union elections

    In 2015, the NLRB issued rules that reduced unnecessary delays in the union election process and made it easier for unions to contact eligible voters. Previously, it could take months, or even years, for workers who had petitioned for an election to get to a vote. However, on December 14, 2017, Trump’s appointees to the NLRB joined a 3-2 decision to start the process of rolling back the rules by issuing a request for information on how they should be changed. One dissenting member of the NLRB called the move “a transparent effort to manufacture a justification for revising the Rule.” Indeed, while working for the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Trump appointee Marvin Kaplan drafted a bill to overturn these election modernization rules.

    13. Urging the Supreme Court to undermine public sector unions

    On June 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with corporate interests and the Trump administration by banning fair share fees for public sector unions in a 5-4 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. In a December 6, 2017, amicus brief, the Trump administration backed union opponents who asked the Supreme Court to overturn a unanimous 40-year-old precedent. This was a reversal for the Office of the Solicitor General, which, in 2015, argued that public sector unions should be able to charge these fees, which cover certain costs related to collective bargaining and contract administration. Eliminating these fees weakens unions by forcing them to provide services for free to nonmembers. Public sector unions are especially important to the economic security of women and workers of color, who make up 56 percent and more than 30 percent of unionized public sector workers, respectively. Research from the Economic Policy Institute finds that public sector workers in states without these fees face a larger pay penalty for working for state and local governments.

    14. Proposing to make it easier for employers to pocket their employees’ tips

    On December 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced a proposed rule that would grant employers full control over the tips that their workers receive. Under the rule, which would reverse protections instituted by the Obama administration, owners of restaurants and other businesses would be able to legally pocket the tips given to their workers so long as tipped workers earned the minimum wage. According to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute, this bill could result in from $523 million to $13.2 billion in tips going to business owners, not workers. After news broke that the DOL had conducted its own economic impact statement showing that the rule could lead to widespread tip stealing but later struck that information from the draft rule, Congress voted to prohibit restaurant owners from sharing server tips with supervisors, managers, and themselves. Tip pooling is still permitted between front-of-house staff and nontipped workers such as cooks. This spring, Bloomberg released information showing that Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of Labor Acosta both advocated for the analysis to be pulled from the rule over the wishes of the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

    15. Threatening working families’ access to health care

    Despite the repeated defeat of bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump is using his administrative power to sabotage working families’ access to marketplace coverage. On October 12, 2017, Trump announced the end of cost-sharing reduction payments, which help reduce deductibles and copays for low-income Americans. As part of his tax reform, President Trump later signed into law a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate, which, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will raise individual market premiums by 10 percent and result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance coverage by 2025.

    The Trump administration issued a rule on June 21, 2018, that would further weaken the individual market and undermine the ACA by expanding access to association health plans that do not need to comply with ACA consumer protections. A group of state attorneys general has sued the federal government to overturn the association health plan rule, arguing that it will increase the cost of health insurance for many taxpayers. Similarly, the Trump administration issued a rule in August extending availability of short-term plans, which do not need to include coverage of essential health benefits and may be denied to people with pre-existing conditions. According to the Center for American Progress, the repeal of the individual mandate and expansion of short-term limited duration plans will result in a typical 40-year-old who purchases insurance in the marketplace paying about $970 more for health insurance next year than they would have absent these actions.

    These actions are part of continued efforts to destabilize the ACA markets. After cutting the 2018 open enrollment period in half and slashing funding for outreach by 90 percent in 2017, the Trump administration announced steep cuts in navigator funding for 2018 to 2019. This funding is intended to support individuals looking to understand their insurance options.

    16. Denying overtime to millions of working people

    The Trump administration derailed an Obama-era protection to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million Americans. In a June 30, 2017, court filing, the Department of Justice announced that it would revisit the Obama administration’s expansion of overtime protections to workers earning less than $47,000 per year. Three weeks later, the administration released a request for information that suggested that it may issue new overtime regulations to cover far fewer workers. In September 2017, the DOL dropped its appeal of a 5th Circuit court case that blocked the overtime rule nationwide. The next month, the DOL filed a new appeal but asked the court to hold the appeal while the DOL goes through the rulemaking process to determine a new salary level. The DOL is now preparing to release a new proposed rule in October 2018. The new threshold has yet to be determined, but during his confirmation hearings, Secretary Acosta suggested that it be set at $33,000. Even if the administration pushes forward with this effort, it will likely take years for a new rule to be finalized. Each day that goes on without this rule in effect, American workers lose an estimated $3.3 million in wages.

    17. Disbanding labor-management forums for federal workers

    On September 29, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that ended labor-management forums in which federal workers could work side by side with their managers to improve agency productivity and effectiveness. These forums were successful during the Obama administration. By discussing workplace changes with employees before making decisions on how to improve performance, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was able to reduce its application backlog and speed up processing. Trump’s executive order could harm both workers and taxpayers by reducing the quality of federal services.

    18. Delaying and weakening mine inspection rule

    On the campaign trail, President Trump often discussed miners. However, after reaching office, he has taken action that will make their jobs more dangerous. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) delayed a rule requiring mine operators to inspect their mines daily before allowing workers to go inside. Since then, the MSHA has issued a final rule that changes the original to allow employers to send miners in before inspections are finished. Unions representing mine workers argue that these changes could make workers less safe.

    19. Ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Temporary Protected Status for some immigrant workers

    President Trump promised to “show great heart” toward the 704,000 young people who, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, received the ability to work, go to school, and live their lives free from fear of detention and deportation. But on September 5, 2017, Trump ended the DACA program. CAP estimates that 16,200 Dreamers have already lost their DACA. The DACA program is hugely important for these immigrants and their families. A majority of DACA recipients reported moving to a better job after receiving DACA, and their average hourly wage increased by 78 percent. By sending these workers back to the economic sidelines, Trump’s action will hurt DACA recipients and native-born American workers alike.

    Trump has continued his attacks on immigrant workers by ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—a program that allows immigrants from countries facing armed conflict, disasters, or other exigent circumstances to live and work legally in the United States—for hundreds of thousands of workers from Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, and El Salvador. The vast majority of TPS recipients are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. CAP analysis finds that ending DACA and removing workers from these countries with TPS would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by $460 billion and $164 billion, respectively, over the next decade.

    20. Endangering the retirement investments of working families

    President Trump signed a memorandum on February 3, 2017, that delayed the enforcement of new protections that would require retirement advisers to act in the best interest of their clients for 60 days. On November 29, 2017, the DOL announced the delay of key parts of the rule until July 2019. After a federal appeals court overturned a lower court decision to uphold the regulation, the Trump administration refused to appeal to the Supreme Court, allowing the rule to be vacated. Without these protections, advisers can recommend investments that are in their own best interests rather than their clients’, making themselves money but potentially charging savers high fees or producing poor results.

    21. Halting EEOC equal pay data collection

    Each year, companies with more than 100 employees submit to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) a form with demographic information on their employees. In 2016, the EEOC issued a new version of the form that would require companies to also include summary pay data on employees, sorted by gender, race, and ethnicity across the 10 job categories included on the form. However, on August 29, 2017, Neomi Rao—the Trump-appointed administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs—stayed the change and allowed companies to submit the previous version of the form, which did not include pay data. Without these data, it will be harder for enforcement agencies to target investigations that aim to combat gender and racial pay gaps and to make sure that workers receive equal pay for equal work.

    22. Rolling back gainful employment protection

    In June 2017, Trump’s Department of Education announced that it will rewrite an Obama-era protection that helps ensure that career training programs provide a good value to students. On August 14, 2018, the Education Department published a proposed rule that would rescind the gainful employment regulations that protect students. The rule was enacted to prevent training programs from receiving federal student aid if they leave graduates with too much debt relative to their earnings. If this protection is weakened, too many workers will be saddled with debt for training programs that don’t deliver on their promises. In August 2017, the department established a new process, giving schools that are caught violating the gainful employment regulation even more time to appeal their violation; the department also eliminated clear standards for statistical rigor.

    23. Shutting down retirement savings plans

    On July 31, 2017, President Trump’s Treasury Department ended the myRA savings program. The program is nearly completely phased out, with service slated to end on September 14, 2018. Launched in 2014, myRA was a public option for workers to start saving for retirement and other life goals through a safe, affordable, and portable Roth individual retirement account. It was also a first step toward bolder policies that would have improved employees’ personal savings and retirement security. At a time when 44 percent of adults struggle to cover a $400 emergency expense, making it harder to save is unacceptable.

    24. Discriminating against LGBTQ Americans in the workplace

    During his campaign, President Trump promised to fight for LGBTQ Americans. Yet on July 26, 2017, he marked the anniversary of President Harry Truman’s order to desegregate the military by announcing that he would ban transgender people from serving in the military, thus jeopardizing the livelihoods of thousands of transgender service members. A few hours later, the U.S. Department of Justice filed an amicus brief defending a company’s decision to fire an employee on the basis of his sexual orientation. This stance is contrary to that of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and many federal courts, which have held that Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ workers. The Justice Department does not regularly weigh in on private employment lawsuits but noted in its filing that the government has a “substantial” interest in the case, “in its capacity as the Nation’s largest employer.”

    25. Exposing workers to toxic materials

    The Trump administration announced on June 23, 2017, that it would roll back new safety rules protecting workers from beryllium, a toxic metal that causes lung cancer and other deadly diseases. Although the Trump administration is leaving in place Obama-era beryllium protections for workers in defense and aerospace industries, the final rule rescinds requirements for medical exams, exposure monitoring, and other protections for construction and shipyard workers. OSHA has since delayed enforcement of the new protections until December 12, 2018.

    26. Endangering workers and first responders at chemical facilities

    On June 12, 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delayed critical updates to its Risk Management Program (RMP) until February 2019. In January, the EPA had finalized changes to the RMP that would require facilities using and storing potentially toxic or dangerous chemicals to mitigate risks, thereby helping workers and local emergency responders plan for potentially catastrophic chemical accidents. The Obama administration directed the EPA to improve safety requirements after a 2013 explosion at a Texas fertilizer storage facility killed 15 people, including 12 firefighters. In May 2018, the Trump administration proposed rolling back some of these protections, including requiring companies to investigate safer alternative technologies and submit to third-party safety audits.

    27. Undermining the quality and pay of apprenticeship programs

    In June 2017, President Trump signed an executive order establishing “industry-recognized apprenticeship programs” that would potentially weaken standards and wage requirements for existing apprenticeship programs. Trump’s move could undermine existing programs, which are typically labor-management partnerships covered by equal opportunity in employment requirements and wage standards, and award nationally recognized credentials.

    28. Switching sides in Supreme Court case limiting workers’ right to sue

    The Justice Department switched sides in a case before the Supreme Court in June 2017. In National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., the NLRB—an independent federal agency—argued that Murphy Oil violated the law by requiring its employees to waive their right to join together and sue over workplace violations. In 2016, the Justice Department sided with the NLRB; however, in 2017, the office announced that after the change in administration, it “reconsidered the issue and has reached the opposite conclusion.” On May 21, 2018, Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, delivered the majority decision, which consolidated Murphy Oil with Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, ruling that employers can enforce mandatory arbitration agreements.

    29. Proposing a budget that would slash funding for job training

    President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal—released in May 2017—would cut funding for job training, career development, and job search assistance by 43 percent compared with FY 2015 levels. If enacted, 5.5 million workers could lose access to these programs.

    30. Attacking a key anti-discrimination agency

    President Trump’s budget also proposed essentially eliminating the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which helps ensure that federal contractors do not discriminate against their workers on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. This move would weaken protections for the more than 1 in 5 Americans who work for a company that receives federal contracts.

    31. Threatening to cut important programs for coal miners and their communities

    Despite President Trump’s promise to support coal communities, the administration’s 2018 budget proposal outlined significant cuts to programs that would hurt coal miners, their families, and their communities. During its final two years, the Obama administration developed and implemented the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to invest in struggling coal-dependent communities. The Trump budget would have eliminated 7 of 12 programs from the POWER Initiative, including those that direct investment in small businesses, offer worker training and placement, and provide much-needed infrastructure investment.

    32. Attempting to make it harder for people with disabilities to work

    While on the campaign trail, President Trump showed a clear lack of compassion toward people with disabilities when he mocked a reporter with a disability. Now, however, that disregard goes beyond words. The president’s proposed budget would end Medicaid as we know it, cutting off access to the home- and community-based care services that allow many people with disabilities to live independently and to work outside the home. Medicaid’s in-home services have also made it possible for family members to remain employed while caring for a loved one with a disability or serious illness.

    33. Proposing taking food off the tables of struggling workers and their families

    President Trump’s proposed budget also makes deep cuts to nutrition assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Many low-wage workers turn to SNAP—formerly known as food stamps—to provide for themselves and their families when wages are not enough: In 2015 alone, nearly 15 million workers lived in households that were helped by SNAP. Nurses, home health aides, maids, housekeepers, and food preparation workers particularly benefit from SNAP; at least one-quarter of workers in these occupations receive nutrition assistance through the program.

    34. Reducing transparency in anti-union attacks

    Trump’s Labor Department issued a final rule on July 17, 2018, that prevents reporting by companies that hire anti-union consultants in order to fight back against workers trying to come together in unions. The rule rescinds an Obama-era protection that if implemented would have boosted transparency for workers in the 70 percent of union organizing drives where companies hired these sorts of consultants.

    35. Rolling back guidance on who is an employer

    In June 2017, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era guidance that strengthened wage theft enforcement by ensuring that companies did not illegally misclassify their employees as independent contractors and that when workers were cheated out of wages, “joint employment” standards were enforced against the companies with the power to ensure legal compliance. A 2014 report from the Economic Policy Institute estimated that wage theft could cost American workers more than $50 billion every year.

    36. Exposing farmworkers to toxic pesticides

    In January 2017, the Obama administration’s EPA finalized stronger protections for workers who apply—and therefore are exposed to—restricted-use pesticides, the most toxic pesticides on the market. The rule strengthened certification requirements for pesticide applicators, established training requirements for those who handle and apply these pesticides, and set a nationwide minimum age of 18 for certified applicators and people working under their direct supervision. On June 2, 2017, the EPA delayed implementation of this rule until 2018 to give the agency time to review and potentially reconsider it. In December 2017, the EPA announced its plans to revisit the minimum age requirement in the original regulation. The proposed rule regarding minimum age requirements is expected in September 2018.

    37. Making it harder for workers to save for retirement

    In May 2017, President Trump signed legislation to repeal Obama-era guidance that helped cities and states set up retirement savings plans for workers without access to employer-provided plans. While 30 percent of workers have no access to an employer retirement plan, the Trump administration sided with financial industry lobbyists who opposed these programs.

    38. Giving a pass to employers who discriminate against LGBTQ Americans

    President Trump issued an executive order on May 4, 2017, giving Attorney General Jeff Sessions sweeping authority to enact religious exemptions to federal regulations, including nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ federal contractors. On August 10, 2018, the Department of Labor issued a directive to the staff of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to respect the expanded religious freedoms conferred by the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision to organizations and individuals who oppose same-sex marriage. Billions of taxpayer dollars could fund grantees that refuse to serve LGBTQ people, adversely affecting LGBTQ Americans’ ability to enter apprenticeship and job training programs. This would only serve to compound the impact of employment discrimination against LGBTQ people. Between 15 percent and 43 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people already report experiencing some form of discrimination or harassment in the workplace; 30 percent of transgender people report “being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing some other form of mistreatment in the workplace.”

    39. Delaying safety protections for construction workers

    In April 2017, OSHA announced a three-month delay in the enforcement of a new standard to limit silica dust exposure among construction workers. The protection was projected to save more than 600 lives every year, preventing a variety of work-related diseases—including lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease. On September 20, 2017, the administration announced that employers would have an additional 30 days before being penalized for violating the new standard, provided they made a “good faith effort” to comply.

    40. Letting lawbreakers off the hook for safety violations

    In April 2017, President Trump signed legislation repealing requirements that clarified that OSHA’s reporting mandate, which directed companies in dangerous industries to keep accurate records of worker injuries, was enforceable for five years. Without strong record-keeping requirements, safety enforcement agencies have difficulty detecting and correcting long-standing problems at lawbreaking companies. Companies must now maintain injury records for only six months.

    41. Reversing a ban on toxic chlorpyrifos

    On March 29, 2017, the EPA reversed its earlier decision to ban chlorpyrifos—an agricultural pesticide—even after agency scientists completed an extensive risk assessment that concluded it could damage the neurological development of children and cause acute symptoms in those exposed to even small amounts. Just two months later, a dozen farmworkers in California fell ill after winds blew a chlorpyrifos-based pesticide from nearby orchards into their cabbage fields. On August 9, 2018, a federal court ordered the EPA to ban the use of chlorpyrifos within 60 days.

    42. Letting lawbreaking government contractors off the hook

    On March 27, 2017, President Trump signed legislation repealing an Obama-era protection to ensure that companies with long records of violating workplace laws come into compliance with the law or no longer receive government contracts. Every year, companies that shortchange their workers and cut corners in workplace safety continue to receive federal contracts with no strings attached. One report found that in a single year, the worst violators of workplace laws received $81 billion in contracts. In July, President Trump’s Labor Department also issued instructions that allow contractors covered by sick leave requirements established during the Obama administration to reduce contributions to other types of worker benefits.

    43. Scapegoating federal workers

    President Trump signed a memorandum on January 23, 2017, that froze hiring of nonmilitary federal workers. This move threatened to weaken an already shrinking federal workforce and harm taxpayers, as the government will increasingly rely on private contractors to supply government services. The blanket freeze was lifted on April 12, but agencies are implementing further plans to cut their workforces.


    On the campaign trail, President Trump cast himself as the savior of the working class who was willing to buck the Republican and Democratic establishment in order to stand up for working people. As president, however, Trump has not followed through on this promise. His administration is quietly using its executive and regulatory powers to roll back important protections for working people. And in every instance where Congress has passed a piece of anti-worker legislation, President Trump has signed the bill into law. The American Worker Project will continue to update this list. We hope this tracker will serve as a resource for worker advocates and progressive lawmakers who seek to hold the president accountable.

    David Madland is a senior fellow and the senior advisor for the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Karla Walter is director of the American Worker Project. Alex Rowell is a former policy analyst for Economic Policy at the Action Fund. Zoe Willingham is the research assistant for the American Worker Project.