President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address this week did little to reassure American workers or retirees that happy days are here again.
Workers today are subjected to working conditions that create health endangering stress and lead to incivility, bullying and worse. They can be and often are fired without cause. Age discrimination in hiring is so prevalent that astute job seekers over the age of 30 omit any indicator of age from their resumes.
Meanwhile, 53 million Americans are “independent workers” – about 34 percent of the total workforce. It is predicted that most American workers will be freelancers in 2027. Robots have taken over manufacturing jobs and now threaten to replace lawyers, radiologists and software designers, among others. Not only do freelancers lack job security, but they get lower wages and no benefits or pensions.
Trump ignored ‘independent’ workers and retired Americans and threatened federal employees.
Since the Great Recession, only one group has been shielded from the savage winds of unemployment and underemployment – federal employees. In his address, Trump called on Congress “to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.” In other words, he would abolish civil service protections.
Trump completely ignored the 62 million Americans who have retired, failing to mention his campaign promise to not cut Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, older Americans struggling to survive on $17,000 a year from Social Security are being hit with ever higher medical costs.
Trump has already repealed several executive orders signed into law by former Democratic President Barack Obama that promised to make things incrementally better for workers. Yet, Trump has not repealed the woefully misguided executive order that Obama signed in 2010 that allows federal agencies to discriminate against older workers.
Trump is riding high on a good economy but the power of temporary tax breaks and bonuses may wane if the economy sputters, especially if Trump continues policies that reward the rich and powerful and ignore the plight of America’s workers.
What’s the alternative, you might ask? The supposed party of the people, the Democratic Party, appears to be single-mindlessly focusing on wedge issues that drove many of its former faithful to vote for a fast talking television personality. Where’s the economic plan?