Trump sailed through smoothly even in heavily unionized states such as Michigan, which is home to United Auto Workers (UAW). With the Republicans controlling both houses of the Congress as well as the Presidency, it wouldn’t be surprising if they are inclined to seeing the unions as fair game.
Unions in the United States under a new Republican administration are likely to face sweeping regulatory pressures as Mr. Trump is expected to tilt labour policies towards employers.
With unions failing to deliver key industrial constituencies to Hillary Clinton, Republicans will take control of not only the presidency but also both chambers of the Congress.
With a Republican-led Senate and Mr. Trump likely to pick a new justice for the Supreme Court, which typically hears labour-related cases, unions are likely to face wide-ranging consequences.
”I think it’s going to be a very difficult period,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Like many, he was surprised by the outcome of the U.S. elections.
Among his primary concerns was a case in the Supreme Court in which public sector unions scored a major victory related to the funding of organised labour wherein the unions managed to win, only because of a 4-4 deadlock. The appointment of a new, more conservative judge, could now change that.
Under President Barrack Obama, the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) had sought to make it easier for unions to organise themselves. Currently the NLRB is pursuing a case which is trying to establish McDonald’s Corp as a “joint employer” of workers who work at its franchises. If they were to win the case, it could compel McDonalds to sit with unions who represent employees of those independent franchises. But now with Republicans controlling federal agencies, the formation of unions, rules related to overtime, etc. could undergo changes.
Case in point: In September, the Obama administration had finalized an executive order which required federal contractors to provide for sick leave to workers. Furthermore, rules were also expanded on the eligibility for overtime pay, which is scheduled to take effect next month. These actions drew loud criticism from business groups. With a Republican administration in office, these rules face increased risk of attrition.
“We don’t have a firewall now,” said Tom Buffenbarger, a ex-president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
During campaigning, Trump had expressed support for the right-to-work legislation, which allows workers to avoid paying union their dues. In Congress, Republican leaders have consistently sought to bring about changes at the national level, which according to Labour unions, will only undermine their collective bargaining right and the due of workers.
According to William Gould, an ex-chairman of the NLRB now a professor at Stanford Law School, Mr. Trump is likely to partner with Congress so as to systematically dismantle a whole bunch of labour initiatives undertaken by Obama.
Republicans “regard unions as first amongst fair game” because of their support for Clinton, said Gould.
“It’s also fair to assume that Trump will be inclined to repeal a host of executive orders supporting unions,” especially those rules which apply to federal contracts, said Steven Bernstein, a partner at law in Fisher Phillips.
Surprisingly, although organized labour is a key Democratic constituency, Trump sailed through such union heavy states such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.