Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

All anti-Trump resistance is local

Trump's new Labor pick is, not surprisingly, anti-labor. Meanwhile, Philadelphia took one more step toward improving pay for its workers -- showing yet again that real resistance to Trump will be on the local level.

Donald Trump went into Labor this afternoon. He delivered a monster:

President-elect Donald J. Trump is expected to name Andrew F. Puzder, chief executive of the company that operates the fast food outlets Hardee's and Carl's Jr. and an outspoken critic of the worker protections enacted by the Obama administration, to be secretary of labor, people close to the transition said on Thursday.

Mr. Puzder has spent his career in the private sector and has opposed efforts to expand eligibility for overtime pay, while arguing that large minimum wage increases hurt small businesses and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers.

As this surprisingly on-point New York Times article notes:

But Mr. Trump is also taking a risk that a wealthy chief executive will be viewed as a credible advocate for workers.

In a 2012 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Puzder's company listed his base salary as over $1 million. "Annual base salaries should be competitive and create a measure of financial security for our executive officers," the filing said.

Many advocates of raising the minimum wage significantly argue that it is necessary to provide a measure of financial security to ordinary workers.

Indeed, Trump -- with his appointment of this low-wage fast-food dude and his "tweetstorm" attacking the union local president at that Carrier Plant in Indianapolis -- has made it clear that his presidency will be open season on labor. This despite that fact that Trump ran surprisingly strong in union or formerly union households in the Rust Belt, arguably the narrow margin of victory in the election. Politically, the president-elect is risking biting the hand that fed him.

Meanwhile, there are scores of localities that actually don't think it's a good idea to nickel-and-dime working people in their hometowns -- that folks deserve a living wage, to get paid for their overtime, and not to experience "wage theft" by working unpaid hours. In many cases, there's only so much they can do. Take Philadelphia -- which is barred by state law from a general hike in the current, measly minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. That said, City Council today got behind an innovative measure aimed at both boosting pay and reducing gender inequality:

Philadelphia will soon be the first city in the nation to ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history, a question advocates say perpetuates pay discrimination against women and minorities.

"This is about fairness. Just be fair," said Councilman Bill Greenlee, who sponsored the legislation. "Base the salary offer on the job, what the job is worth and what the applicant brings in experience and ability."

A spokesman for Mayor Kenney said the mayor will sign the bill, which was passed by Council Thursday, into law.

Philadelphia officials got the idea from the state legislature in Massachusetts, which passed its own salary-history legislation this summer.

This is one more small step in the direction that was suggested here in the days immediately after Trump's election. With the GOP-led Congress determined to march in lockstep with the 45th president's drive to make America return to the 19th Century again, municipalities and a handful of progressive states (spoiler alert: Not Pennsylvania) will need to "morally secede" from the dangerous doings down in D.C. This is one innovative way for Philadelphia to fight for pay equity and workers' rights -- when Washington clearly will not. (Interestingly, Philadelphia City Council may move in a progressive direction on a very different, broad societal problem -- weighing a bill to ban so-called "gay conversion therapy.") More proof that cities remain a ray of hope in an unusually dark time -- and not just because of the looming winter solstice.