A recent study shows the costs of the Trump Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would allow employers to steal workers’ tips, and they’re huge. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that employers would take $5.8 billion from workers—after all, tip theft isn’t allowed now but it’s still fairly common: “Research on workers in three large U.S. cities (Chicago, Los Angeles and New York) finds that 12 percent of tipped workers had tips stolen by their employer or supervisor.”
As you might imagine, Team Trump has not exactly led with this information. In fact, the EPI’s Heidi Shierholz tells Jared Bernstein in the Washington Post, the Trump Department of Labor isn’t even doing the bare minimum to let the public know what effect this proposal would have:
In a deeply unusual move, DOL did not provide an estimate of the amount of tips that will be transferred from workers to employers (which is one reason we did so). This is unusual because agencies are required by law as a part of the rulemaking process to assess all quantifiable costs and benefits to the fullest extent possible. DOL could have produced an estimate; at EPI, we produced an estimate in less than two weeks using routine procedures and taking a methodological approach that is in exactly the same spirit of estimates the Department of Labor produces all the time [Note: Shierholz was formerly chief economist for the DOL]. Why didn’t DOL produce an estimate? To ask the question is to answer it; any good-faith estimate would have shown this rule will result in a substantial shift of tips from workers to employers and the DOL under President Trump — and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — is trying to hide that fact.
That’s the Trump administration three-step for you: decide to do a bad thing, lie about what its effects will be, and skirt the law to avoid transparency. At potentially huge cost to workers, in this case.