Today’s News & Commentary — February 1, 2017

Last night, the President nominated 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. As Hannah reported yesterday, Judge Gorsuch shares a similar legal philosophy to that of the late Justice Scalia and is known for advocating for an end the doctrine of Chevron deference to administrative agencies. Gorsuch’s labor record is sparse, as he has only written four NLRB opinions. In those opinions (three majority; one dissent), Gorsuch deferred to the NLRB three out of four times, with the result of only one union-friendly outcome. He also wrote for the majority in 14 published opinions on employment discrimination, of which 9 were favorable to the employer, 3 were favorable to the employee, and 2 were mixed results (partially affirming and partially reversing the district court, resulting in favorable and unfavorable effects for the employer and employee). The New York Times Editorial Board reports that Gorsuch “spells big trouble for public sector labor unions.”

The Washington Post announced yesterday that it had obtained a draft executive order that, if enacted, would substantially overhaul the current system for administering immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. The draft order is entitled “Executive Order on Protecting American Jobs and Workers by Strengthening the Integrity of Foreign Worker Visa Programs” and states that its goal is to protect American workers—”our forgotten working people.” The draft order directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to review all regulations that permit immigrants to work in the U.S. and to collaborate with the Secretaries of State and Labor to “restore the integrity of employment-based nonimmigrant worker programs.” The Post reports that, if enacted, the order would “immediately restrict[ ] the flow of immigrants and temporary laborers into the U.S. workforce.” The draft order is partially premised on the unsubstantiated idea that immigrants are more likely to rely on public benefits than those born in the U.S. In fact, studies from Harvard and the Cato Institute show that the opposite is true.

The hearing for Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder has been postponed for the fourth time since he was nominated on December 8. The hearing was most recently scheduled to take place on February 7, 2017, and no new date has been confirmed yet. An aide for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions told the press that the Committee is still waiting to receive Mr. Puzder’s paperwork from the Office of Government Ethics. Experts have called the repeated delays “unusual” and suggested that the delays indicate problems for the nominee in the vetting process.

Finally, although union membership has been steadily declining for decades, a new poll from the Pew Research Center shows that today most Americans view unions favorably. According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who view unions favorably has been steadily increasing since 2015 and currently stands at 60%. Among Democrats, 76% hold favorable views of unions, while 44% of Republicans feel the same. The poll also measures public opinion of business corporations, whose favorability ratings have mirrored those of unions’ since about 2011, including a parallel uptick in support since 2015.