Trump is pawn in GOP’s anti-worker agenda


In 2012, radical anti-government activist Grover Norquist explained what the right wing should demand from a future GOP president: “Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen. … This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”

When it comes to their far right anti-worker agenda, congressional Republicans will almost certainly adopt this strategy, and expect future President Donald Trump to sign their “already prepared” legislation.

The extremist nature of the GOP agenda cannot be overstated. Since 2011, Republicans have launched an all-out assault on workers’ rights. In state after state under Republican control, GOP lawmakers have eviscerated the right to choose a union and engage in collective bargaining, with devastating results for workers and huge political advantage for right-wing politicians.

In the past few weeks alone, Texas Republicans have promoted a bill that would require young workers to obtain parental consent before they would be allowed to join a union. Michigan Republican lawmakers attempted to enact legislation that could have imposed draconian penalties on picketing workers and made it easier to permanently replace lawfully striking employees.

{mosads}This extremism is not normal. Rather, it is straight out of the playbook of right-wing authoritarian regimes.

So what, exactly, should we expect from GOP ideologues in D.C.?

After Republicans enacted several similar laws at the state level, it is widely anticipated that the GOP Congress will introduce a national right-to-work bill, which would weaken workers’ bargaining power and lower wages for ordinary Americans.

But the GOP Congress will not stop with there. Republicans in Congress have introduced several bills that are a compendium of far-right ideas on workers’ rights. They will try to prevent union participating in politics – through ludicrously mistitled “paycheck protection” measures – but advocate no restrictions whatsoever on powerful corporations or billionaires.

They also want to ensure that the only way that workers can join a union is through company-dominated elections and would outlaw agreements whereby employers agree to remain neutral in organizing campaign.

And it gets worse. Since the election, Republican members of Congress have proposed abolishing the National Labor Relations Board, which was established in 1935. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) stated that “we ought to consider whether we need a board at all.” The new chair of the House labor committee even questioned whether there is still a need for unions. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) stated that the labor movement has “lost its reason for being.”

Republicans claim their cockamamie anti-worker ideas — all of which originate with far-right think tanks and nefarious lobbyists — would benefit individual employees.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Their agenda would benefit only powerful corporations and the GOP’s billionaire paymasters. Individual workers, in contrast, will pay a heavy price in terms of weakened bargaining power, lower wages and even worse working conditions.

Trump has already demonstrated that he has dreadful instincts when it comes to workers’ rights. He has nominated Andrew Puzder, whose fast-food empire has an appalling record of wage and hour violations, to be his secretary of Labor.

The Department of Labor found that 60 percent of his Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants had at least one labor law violation. Thus, the owner of one of the worse labor law violators has been nominated to head the department that enforces the statute. To paraphrase Trump, Puzder has experience in this area, but it is bad experience.

However, the truly frightening ideas on workers’ rights reside not with Trump but with the GOP Congress. Grover Norquist stated that he would accept, as Republican president, a monkey, a plate of lasagna or a potted plant. Norquist explained: “We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it.”

Trump has been called a “useful idiot” when it comes to advancing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, and he could play the same role when it comes to advancing the GOP’s radical anti-worker agenda. Trump will likely sign any labor bill that Republican lawmakers deliver to his desk, no matter how extreme.

Congressional Republicans have absolutely no mandate for their extremist agenda — they have repeatedly forced through anti-worker legislation in the states with no advance notice — but this will not matter. Right-wing ideologues now dominate the party on workers’ rights. They have already wreaked havoc with their anti-worker agenda in several states, and next year they will turn their attention to federal legislation.

If they succeed in enacting this far-right agenda, the real losers will be working-class Americans.

John A. Logan is professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Virginia Foxx

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