Trump wraps up his war on workers with new rule to deny fair pay to journalists


Donald Trump's taking his war on the press to a new level, insisting they shouldn't get paid.

Donald Trump's Department of Labor on Tuesday determined that local news reporters can be excluded from minimum wage and overtime laws, the latest move his administration has made to hurt working people in the United States.

The determination came in a guidance letter issued the day before Trump's term in office expires, and says that local news reporters can be classified as "creative professionals" who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It's unclear which local media outlet leaders may have asked for this carve-out for their employees. The letter is not addressed to any particular person and says only that the person who asked for the clarification wrote on "behalf of several employers in the print, broadcast, and digital media industries throughout the United States" that are "predominantly small-town community and large metropolitan daily newspapers, but also include local broadcast stations."

This exemption could hurt local media reporters, who have already faced countless layoffs and furloughs as local news outlets struggle amid falling revenue. Newspapers around the country have cut half of their jobs since 2008, according to a Pew Research Center report. And the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has accelerated the decline in jobs at newspapers.

The decision is the latest attack on working Americans from the Trump administration, which has taken numerous actions to hurt the working class, despite its claims to support working people.

During the pandemic, Trump ordered meatpacking plants to remain open, even though the plants were not taking measures to protect workers from the coronavirus, leading to massive COVID-19 outbreaks.

Trump and congressional Republicans also passed a tax law that overwhelmingly favored the rich, but offered tax cuts to working Americans that were so small, just 14% of people believed their taxes were cut at all, according to a Gallup survey.

Trump also nominated anti-union judges that Senate Republicans confirmed and put anti-union appointees on the National Labor Relations Board, which issued decisions that let employers delay union recognition or made it harder to unionize in general, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute.

Meanwhile, Trump's trade war cost the United States economy roughly 300,000 jobs, according to a September 2019 study from Moody's Analytics.

Ultimately, the Trump Labor Department ruling reclassifying journalists to exempt them from minimum wage and overtime laws serves as a final attack on the media, which he has declared to be the "enemy of the people" throughout his four years in the White House.

It's possible that this decision will be reversed when President-elect Joe Biden's administration gets started. When he ran for president, Biden pledged to be the "most pro-union president you've ever seen." He's making good on that promise by nominating Boston Mayor Marty Walsh — a former union leader himself — to lead the Department of Labor.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.