I'd Like to Thank the Trump Administration

January 9, 2018

 

I think that folks who read my writing regularly can tell I'm pretty much left-of-center when it comes to my political views. I don't think I'm shy about that. I don't try to bring that into my workplace, but I'm not putting Trump bumper stickers on my Mini Coopers.

 

That said, there are always things that conservative administrations do that I agree with. For example, in the Bush administration, Daylight Savings Time was moved so that it began after Halloween. An extra week of daylight, and safer trick-or-treating. He also took a principled stand against Islamophobia in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when we sorely needed that leadership voice. Good ones, George!

 

Even in the nascent Trump administration, I have been able to find something that I've approved of in the many decisions they've made. I've not found much, but this one was very good, and was one of the decisions made under the Obama administration that I, and many HR practitioners and business managers found outright bizarre. It prevented employers from having a policy that required employees to treat each other with civility.

 

I'd like to say it again: we couldn't require employees to treat each other with civility and respect. You can read the decision here. You'll find it is not the only provision of the decision, but it is the one that was the most befuddling for me.

 

There's a good breakdown of why this decision was really bizarre when it was implemented on this website, but to bottom line it, it seems the Obama NLRB didn't want to allow employers to put a stop to union meetings by saying they got out of hand and uncivil, and therefore call an end to the meetings, stifling the ability of employees to organize. I get that, and there's value in ensuring employees' right to organize is unabridged, but to say an employer can't enforce a harmonious work environment is just insane, especially in a world where we are dealing with increasing threats of violence, political fights and bullying. 

 

When I wrote about New York's Paid Leave law last week, I talked about unintended consequences of the letter of the law, and that's another example. We need to be able to analyze the effects of the laws we implement, intentional or not. It's the same situation when an HR professional crafts a company policy, and the knock-on effect of unintended policy consequences often means legal liability for their company, or an employee's rights being infringed upon. Lawmakers need to be just as careful about their work as we are.

 

That said, there have been some pretty destructive things the Trump administration has done regarding workplace laws and guidance that I have disagreed with. For example, their recent decision to disallow employees working for a franchise of a larger company, such as McDonald's, to organize against the larger entity, as opposed to the individual franchisee, is difficult for me to square. Unions work best when they give a voice to the little guy against a giant entity that doesn't work in their interest. I've seen when unions become bloated, work in their own interest and forget why they exist in the first place, and that certainly doesn't help anyone either, but there should be a balance point. I can hardly think of a group of workers in more need than fast food workers, Wal-Mart workers and similar. When your staff work full-time for you but still qualify for food stamps, that's a taxpayer subsidy. No one wins in that scenario. Well, the corporation does.

 

As always, I'm interested in hearing from you! What do you think of these decisions? Were there others that were consequential? Let me know your thoughts.

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