In the days since the election, few positions in the incoming Trump administration have been finalized. But a look at early appointments, campaign advisors, and favored administration hopefuls makes one thing clear: Trump is building a pro-business cabinet intent on scaling back government regulations meant to protect workers, consumers, and the environment.
Figuring out what that means for America’s workforce will largely depend on whom Trump names as the secretary of labor, a position tasked with enforcing rules meant to protect American workers, through mechanisms such as safety regulations, overtime-pay requirements, and workers’-compensation benefits. Media outlets have been floating a handful of names that Trump might be considering, among them Victoria Lipnic, Andrew Puzder, and Scott Walker. They have vastly different professional backgrounds, but all seem to share a philosophical view that the government’s role is to protect employers more than workers.
A potential frontrunner for the job, according to Politico and The New York Times, is Victoria Lipnic, one of two Republican commissioners on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces civil-rights laws in the workplace. Lipnic served as the assistant secretary of labor under George W. Bush before Obama appointed her to the EEOC in 2010. She, in some ways, represents a more moderate choice for labor secretary than the other two potential picks, and has experience in both the private sector (as an attorney) and public sector. Her voting record as an EEOC commissioner sometimes crosses party lines, but is largely indicative of a preference for less regulation. This year, Lipnic was one of two Republican commissioners who voted against the proposal to require employers to submit detailed pay data for employees, which many viewed as an opportunity to make companies more transparent about the pay gaps that exist for women and workers of color. She was quoted as saying that the proposal “should be relegated to the heap of bad policy ideas once and for all.”