- Robert Reichformer labor secretary under President Bill Clinton. Reich now teaches at UC Berkeley.
Protests broke out across the country Monday as the 538 electors of the Electoral College met in their respective state capitals and decisively voted to make Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States. Trump received 304 votes, well over the threshold of 270 votes necessary for him to become the next president. His Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, won 227 votes. Trump is scheduled to be sworn in as president one month from today on January 20. We speak to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich about his piece, “The First 100 Day Resistance Agenda.”
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Clinton, now professor at University of California, Berkeley. So let’s go to the labor secretary nominee of Donald Trump, the president-elect, Andrew Puzder, the fast-food CEO who is the head of the company that franchises Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., longtime Republican donor, a vocal critic not just of the living wage, but of the minimum wage, expansion of overtime pay, paid sick leave and the Affordable Care Act. Can you talk about the significance of this position that you occupied decades ago?
ROBERT REICH: The secretary of labor presides over a vast regulatory and enforcement agency in charge of all of the labor laws of the United States, beginning with everything from unemployment insurance all the way through workplace safety and pension protection and enforcing the minimum wage laws and the 40-hour work week with time and a half for overtime and—and everything you could imagine. If you have a secretary of labor who is anti these labor laws—and Andrew Puzder has said again and again that he’s against raising the minimum wage. He doesn’t even believe in a federal minimum wage. He’s against the overtime regulations that came out that President Obama promulgated. He’s against many of these labor laws. If you have a president—a secretary of labor who’s against all of these labor laws, there’s a substantial danger that they will not be enforced, because that’s what the Labor Department does, is it enforces.
And I, frankly, worry about that. I’ve seen up close how important that enforcement is. You have some firms that will disregard those laws, unless the risk of getting caught times the penalty is greater than the benefits to that firm of simply flouting those laws. Mine safety is a good example. We’ve had, tragically, in the past, examples of mine owners who have basically turned their backs on those laws, a mine owner like, incidentally—or perhaps not incidentally—Wilbur Ross, who is going to be secretary of commerce, that terrible mine tragedy at one of his mines, where he was—he actually owned. Well, if you have a secretary of labor that is not enforcing the mine safety laws, you’re going to have mine owners that basically disregard them, like Wilbur Ross did. Again and—
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Reich, we just have a minute and a half to go, and I want to get to your piece on “The First 100 Day Resistance Agenda.” A lot of people are analyzing what’s going on right now. Not a lot are doing what you did and actually talking about a resistance agenda that talks about getting Democrats in Congress and across the country to pledge to oppose the Trump agenda, to boycotting all Trump products—real estate, hotels, resorts, everything around the world. Can you go through what you’re suggesting?
ROBERT REICH: Yes. Amy, generally, I think we do have to regard this as not a normal presidency. You know, some people say, “Oh, well, it’s just a—we’ve had conservative, pompous, narcissistic presidents before.” This is—this is not normal. This is really dangerous. And we have to resist. We have to have a peaceful resistance. And what I tried to do is list the kind of things that we all, as citizens, need to do and need to have our representatives and senators in Congress do, and not only mount a forceful rejection of these Trump nominees, most of whom are completely unqualified and incompetent with regard to enforcing the purposes of these agencies that they are going to be running, or Trump wants them to run, but also, individually, we need to boycott Trump products.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Robert Reich, former Clinton labor secretary, now professor of public policy at UC Berkeley. We’ll link to his recent pieces, “The First 100 Day Resistance Agenda” and “Trump’s Seven Techniques to Control the Media.” We’ll link to it at democracynow.org. It’s now been 146 days since Donald Trump has held a news conference.