This Labor Day, workers are under attack from GOP policies
By Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for The Hill
As we celebrate Labor Day, it is more important than ever that we honor working people and reflect on the many hard-won accomplishments of America’s labor movement. From gaining the minimum wage and the weekend to abolishing child labor and fighting unfair working conditions, labor unions continue to make important gains for working families. But this Labor Day, unions and workers are under attack from a Republican President and a Congress focused on further enriching the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
This agenda was made crystal clear with the Republican tax scam rushed through Congress late last year. We were told by the Republicans that the corporate tax savings would be passed on to workers, and President Trump went so far as to guarantee working families a $4,000 raise. Instead, more than 80 of the benefits of their policy are going to the nation’s richest 1%, and corporate America’s tax bill percent will drop by more than $100 billion this year. While corporations ended up getting exactly what they wanted, workers ended up getting the shaft.
Despite President Trump’s promise, only 4% of America’s employees have gotten any kind of payout connected to the corporate tax cut, according to Americans for Tax Fairness. The majority of working Americans received little benefit, including those who may have gotten one-time bonuses, but not actual raises. Meanwhile, average wages have actually fallen over the past year when accounting for rising costs.
We know that the tax savings are not going into worker paychecks, but right back into the corporate bottom line. More than $710 billion in stock buybacks have been announced since the GOP tax scam was enacted, only helping the tiny fraction of wealthy Americans who own the lion’s share of corporate stock. A recent study by the Roosevelt Institute and the National Employment Law Center highlighted how the money spent by McDonald’s on buybacks over the past two years could have funded that $4,000 raise President Trump promised for the chain’s almost 2 million employees.
But these aren’t the only negative ramifications of the GOP tax law. After claiming the tax cuts would magically pay for themselves, House Republicans are now trying to cover the actual $2 trillion cost by proposing cuts to vital public services like Medicare and Medicaid.
But congressional Democrats and union leaders haven’t forgotten the broken promises made to American workers, and we are fighting back. We’ve been pressing CEOs to explain how they’re using their big tax-cut payoffs, and a number of corporate executives have a lot of explaining to do. For example, not only has drug-maker Pfizer failed to provide permanent raises after saving a billion dollars in taxes this year alone, but it continues to jack up its inflated prescription prices. Meanwhile, Walmart is saving over $2 billion in taxes yet laying off more than 13,000 workers.
The GOP tax scam is just the latest attack in the decades-long war on working people and organized labor waged by Republicans, an agenda that has been kicked into hyperdrive by the Trump administration. We know that when unions play a prominent role in the American economy, wages, benefits, and workplace safety improve for union and non-union workers alike.
So when President Trump, his appointees, and his Republican allies in Congress attack unions, read it for what it is: an attack on our paychecks, benefits and workplace rights. For example, President Trump’s two recent executive orders weakened the Federal workforce and decreased the quality of services for taxpayers. These attacks have been exacerbated by Trump’s Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who has attacked teachers, firefighters, police officers, scientists, and every person they serve when he provided the majority for the recent Janus decision.
On this Labor Day, we must double down on our fight and work hard through Election Day and beyond to stand up for policies that help all Americans. Working to end the assaults on unions—in the workplace, in the courts, in Congress and in state legislatures. Working to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and using that money to invest in infrastructure, health care, education, retirement security and more. Working to ensure that workers—not just CEOs and the wealthy—are remembered, respected and honored every day of the year.
Pocan and Schakowsky are, respectively, the co-chair and a vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.