Wednesday, November 30, 2016

America's Coming Labor Pains

Politico is reporting that Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta is up for Labor Secretary, and judging from his record he'll be no friend of America's workers.

According to a transition pool report, Barletta said that he and President-elect Donald Trump “talked about the secretary of labor.” When asked whether he was interested in the position, Barletta said, “I’m going to consider what we talked about.”

Barletta is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and would likely roll back key Obama administration regulations. In September, he backed a proposal to delay the Labor Department’s final overtime rule by six months, calling it ‘“ill-considered." (A Texas judge issued a preliminary injunction against the rule last week.)

In addition, Barletta opposed the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires broker-dealers to consider only their clients’ best interest when providing retirement advice. In April, Barletta voted to block the rule under the Congressional Review Act. (The measure did not pass.)

Barletta is vocal on immigration issues. He was a signatory to an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case challenging President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive actions extending deferred action to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and expanded deferred action for undocumented children. Barletta also supported legislation passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that penalized so-called sanctuary cities that did not comply with federal law enforcement.

“Sanctuary cities provide refuge for illegal immigrants, drain local resources, and contribute to an increase in crime,” he said in a statement. “ This bill says that sanctuary cities can no longer operate with impunity and holds them accountable for their own actions and the behavior of the illegal immigrants they are sheltering.”

Ragerdless of who's in charge of the department, I'd expect whoever it is to rail against immigrants, Obamacare, and the minimum wage.  Barletta, coming from coal country in the Keystone State, seems like the perfect front man for Trump's coming deregulatory push that will almost certainly reverse worker protections under the Obama administration.

Barletta entered politics in 1999, when he became Mayor of Hazelton, Pennsylvania. He held the office until 2010. Barletta, who was born there, became nationally known as one of the toughest politicians on illegal immigration, a reputation that must have impressed Trump. He even vowed to make the city “one of the toughest places in the United States” for illegal immigrants.

In 2006, Barletta and the Hazelton City Council made it illegal for all illegal immigrants in the city to rent homes or work there. As the the Washington Post notes, the act also made English the city’s official language and banned employees from translating documents without authorization.

“I see illegal immigrants picking up and leaving — some Mexican restaurants say business is off 75 percent,” Barletta told the Post in 2006. “The message is out there.”

In July 2007, a Federal District court Judge struck down the ordinance, ruling that it interfered with federal laws on immigration and the due process of employers.

“Whatever frustrations officials of the City of Hazleton may feel about the current state of immigration enforcement, the nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme,” Judge James M. Munley wrote in his ruling, reports the New York Times.

“I will not sit back because the federal government has refused to do its job,” Baretta vowed after the ruling. However, the ruling was upheld in 2010 by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

So yeah, a loud and virulent critic of "illegals" will almost certainly be offered the job of Labor Secretary.  His job will almost certainly be to justify measures to "clean up" the workforce.  Whether or not Trump and Barletta decide to take aim at employers who make billions every year by knowingly hiring undocumented workers and not paying taxes on them, well I wouldn't hold your breath on that.

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