The election of Donald Trump along with a Republican Congress presents a set of profound challenges and questions for the labor movement and for workers. As the readers of OnLabor know, the election of 2016 may mean (among other things): a national right to work law for the private sector; national right to work rules for the public sector (through the return of Friedrichs-type cases); the possibility that exclusive representation itself could eventually be ruled unconstitutional; a reshaped NLRB willing to undo much of what the Obama board has done, including on questions of joint employment, arbitration, graduate student organizing, and rules for non-union workplaces; a Department of Labor, potentially led by Scott Walker, and willing to undo what the historic Obama Department has achieved; workplace raids aimed at undocumented immigrant workers; a different approach to Title VII and the EEOC. The list, of course, continues. There may be positive developments too: the Trump campaign was committed to a robust infrastructure program and to restoring jobs – two things that, if accomplished, would be enormously important to workers. Trump has also indicated his support for some form of family leave and child care improvements.
Whatever the particulars turn out to be, this is a moment that calls for urgent and creative thinking about what comes next for labor. How should the labor movement begin to think about the next four years? What is possible in this changed environment? We hope to contribute to this discussion with Labor in the Trump Years, a series of essays from labor leaders, lawyers, and academics. The first installment comes from David Rolf.