There were rumors about this earlier in the year, but now it appears that the Trump administration is preparing to undo some of the labor law changes that were put in place under the Obama administration. These were not changes to existing law enacted by Congress, but rather reinterpretations of the wording of the rules. The two specific rules poised to be revised deal with the handling of overtime pay for workers and, more significantly, the Joint Employer Standard which impacts the unionization of franchise owners. (Washington Examiner)
The Trump administration will release rewritten versions of two major Obama-era labor rules early next year, administration officials say: The 40 hour-a-week overtime pay rule and a rule determining when corporations can be held legally liable for workplace violations by their franchisees.
The changes would undo much of Obama’s legacy on labor law. Both are eagerly awaited by business groups. The administration has added both to its fall regulatory agenda, setting the likely announcement sometime by March.
The new rules will cap two years in which the Trump administration has systematically torn down much Obama’s work to make federal rules and regulations more union-friendly.
The change to the overtime rules is a bit complicated and I’ve never been exactly sure where I come down on that one. If there’s going to be a minimum wage level at which employers can’t be forced to pay time and a half for overtime (which seems reasonable) where should it fall? The old level, which was barely $20K per year, does seem low because that’s less than the minimum wage in some states and cities now. But the Obama administration upped it to $47K which is just shy of the national median household income. Is that too high?
The Joint Employer Standard is the bigger issue to be resolved. If you’re not familiar with the subject, I wrote a longer piece back in September which addresses most of the questions. The short version is that labor unions want to be able to force collective bargaining issues and workplace rules up to the top level in companies where large numbers of outlets are owned and operated by franchise holders. McDonald’s is one of the best examples. But under the original rules, the corporation wasn’t responsible if the franchisee sets the rules. Obama “reinterpreted” the rule so the unions could gain more traction, but now it appears that’s going to be corrected, much to the dismay of the unions.
But the fact that Barack Obama’s “legacy” of labor law is being “undone” by Donald Trump still comes back to the fact that these executive branch rules are not the same as laws. They have the same effect and the ability to heavily impact individuals and businesses, but since the White House went around Congress to make the rules, the next President can just as easily do away with them. If these are issues which presidents want to see addressed, they need to work with Congress and get them passed into law, allowing the people to decide their fate.