Communications Workers Sue Trump Over Federal Rules Revocation Order

Add the Communications Workers to the ever-lengthening list of individuals and organizations who are marching into federal courts to oppose Republican Trump administration schemes. CWA’s objective: Retaining federal pro-worker rules.

To do that, the union sued to overturn Trump’s demand that federal agencies dump two regulations for every one they promulgate, without counting the benefits involved. Putting such a bind on federal rules, CWA said in their brief, filed in U.S. District Court for D.C. on Feb. 8, could harm workers. They cited denying overtime pay and endangering job safety and health.

CWA’s case is only the latest lawsuit that foes of Republican President Donald Trump’s executive orders use to challenge his moves. The most-prominent is the fight over Trump’s ban on all immigrants and refugees, for at least 120 days, from seven majority-Muslim nations, plus an indefinite ban on migrants from Syria. He says he’s fighting terrorism.

But Trump himself has called it “a Muslim ban” and the ACLU and others challenging it, including the states of Washington and Minnesota, say it’s unconstitutional discrimination.

The outcome of CWA’s suit, which the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Citizen co-authored, potentially affects everyone, the three groups pointed out. And just the regulations they believe Trump wants to yank affect millions of people.

So CWA and its allies are asking the judges to “bar agencies from following the order and to issue a declaration the order cannot be lawfully implemented.”

Trump’s order “requires new rules to have a net cost of $0 this fiscal year, without taking into account the value of the benefits of public protections,” they said in a statement.

“It is unbelievable the Trump administration is demanding workers trade off one set of job health and safety protections in order to get protection from another equally dangerous condition,” CWA President Chris Shelton said in announcing the union’s lawsuit.

Trump’s executive order “means the asbestos workplace standard, for example, could be discarded in order to adopt safeguards for nurses from infectious diseases in their workplaces. This violates the mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect workers’ safety and health. It also violates common sense,” Shelton added.

CWA gave other examples, in the court papers, of the impact of Trump’s order on workers, and not just on job safety and health.

As Trump’s Office of Management and Budget “makes clear, under the executive order, an occupational health standard issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act — and at least one other rule — will need to be repealed to enable an employee overtime regulation issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act” to be issued.

“Or an occupational health standard and one other rule will need to be traded in for a motor vehicle safety standard. And the netting out of costs is divorced from any consideration of the benefits (their emphasis) of these protections. This approach is not only irrational, it flies in the face of every one of these and similar statutes,” their suit says.

Making a bad situation even worse, Trump’s order and its ramifications also prevent CWA – and everyone else – from exercising free speech rights to advocate for workplace safety and fair wage rules, plus other protections on a wide range of issues, the groups said.

“CWA frequently engages in the federal agency rule making process…advocating for rules that improve workers’ wages, hours, and working conditions,” the union explained.

Trump’s executive order “threatens this 1st Amendment-protected petitioning activity and participation in rule making because, under the executive order, successful advocacy in favor of a particular regulation will result in repeal of other important regulations protecting workers’ wages, hours, and working conditions.

“Workplace hazards currently slated” for federal rules “directly affect the health and safety of CWA-represented workers, such as trichloroethylene exposure for manufacturing workers and infectious disease exposure for nurses.

“Although in these examples CWA would press for strong worker protections that would save lives and are feasible, the executive order imposes a disturbing Sophie’s Choice by insisting that other to-be-determined health and safety protections for one set of workers must be repealed in exchange for health and safety protections for another set of workers.”

Trump’s order not only stops the union’s protected advocacy for workers and members, but will also harm them “by causing agencies to not issue, delay, or repeal regulations that protect the members’ health and safety at work, or other workplace rights” in the first place, to comply with Trump’s command. No date has been set for a hearing on the suit.

Source: PAI