Labor Department Kills Internal ‘Tip-Pooling’ Economic Analysis
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Labor Department Kills Internal ‘Tip-Pooling’ Economic Analysis

Sec. Acosta Didn’t Like the Conclusion—That Workers Would Be Short-Changed

Report covered up. Labor Department leadership scrubbed an unfavorable internal analysis from a new tip pooling proposal, shielding the public from estimates that showed employees could lose out on billions of dollars in gratuities, four current and former department sources told Bloomberg Law.

The agency shelved the staff economic analysis from a December proposal to scrap an Obama administration rule. The proposal would permit tip pooling arrangements that involve restaurant servers and other workerswho make tips and back-of-the-house workers who don’t. It sparked outrage from worker advocates who said the move would permit management to essentially skim gratuities by participating in the pools themselves.

Senior department political officials—faced with a government analysis showing that workers could lose billions of dollars in tips as a result of the proposal—ordered staff to revise the data methodology to lessen the expected impact, several of the sources said. Although later calculations showed progressively reduced tip losses, Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta and his team are said to have still been uncomfortable with including the data in the proposal.

Anti-FBI memo. Trump cleared the way on Thursday for the release of a secret memo written by Republican congressional staffers accusing federal law enforcement officials of abusing their surveillance authorities. Trump, who had a brief window to block the memo’s disclosure on national security grounds, is expected to tell Congress on Friday that he has no objections and would likely not request any material be redacted, according to a senior administration official. The decision came despite a growing chorus of warnings from national security officials who say that releasing the document would jeopardize sensitive government information, including how intelligence is gathered, and from Democrats who say it is politically motivated and distorts the actions of the Justice Department and the F.B.I.

Republican bails. Another leading Republican House member says he’s not running for relection. South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy, the House Oversight Committee Chairman, for years announced he would not seek reelection or any political office and would instead return to the justice system. Sources close to him say he wants to return home, practice law and maybe teach and write a book.

Hog wild. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing forward with a proposed rule that would forego line-speed limits in hog processing plants, a move that could endanger the well-being of workers and consumers, activists say. The proposal is part of the USDA’s effort to “modernize” the swine industry. These plants, which already work at feverish speeds of up to 1,106 hogs per hour, would likely use the change as an opportunity to further increase the pace of production. The proposal would allow employees to take over some of the oversight duties that USDA inspectors currently handle on the kill lines.

February 2, 2018