Manufacturers can’t wait for Inauguration Day. Like the first hours of New Year’s Day and baseball’s Opening Day, anything feels possible. And when you’ve been battling eight years of volatility and policy uncertainty in the rules governing the workplace, a new way forward is exactly what we need—to help American workers and families with more jobs and higher pay.
A recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study calculated the cost of recent labor regulations to the economy to be $85 billion, more than 400 million hours of paperwork and up to 155,000 jobs lost over the next 10 years. That’s more jobs lost than the entire populations of Green Bay and La Crosse, Wis., combined.
The right type of change starts with a confirmation vote—to get the U.S. Labor Department working smarter and functioning at the level Americans expect and deserve. The Senate should move swiftly to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder. The president-elect was wise to choose the leader who turned around Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., saving not only brick-and-mortar businesses but also jobs that jumpstart better lives. There’s no reason to delay another turnaround—at the Labor Department—that needs to start on day one.
How bad has it been? Here are some of the worst-offending policies:
- President Obama’s Labor Department has hindered the ability of employers, particularly smaller-sized firms, to seek advice on how to comply with labor laws, which can harm manufacturing workers, as much as their employers.
- The administration tried to more than double the minimum salary threshold for employees exempted from overtime pay and add a costly automatic increase provision. Small and rural businesses were hit especially hard by the change—and the rule failed to account for the varied types of work done by affected employees and the increasing need for flexible work arrangements.
- They’ve prevented employers from incentivizing safe workplace practices.
- And they’ve tried to turn back the clock on labor law, refusing to allow modernizations to take place that best fit the modern workplace.
It’s time for more balance: a labor policy that can achieve both a positive work environment and create new job openings in manufacturing and in other sectors for all Americans. It’s the type of labor policy we lay out in the NAM’s new “Competing to Win” blueprint on labor policy and the agenda we’re confident President-elect Trump and Andrew Puzder can get working on right away—if senators act in manufacturing’s and the people’s interest.