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February 13, 2017

What’s Outside of President Trump’s Control?


This year at the annual Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) Global Best Practices Conference in Dallas, Texas, attendees had the opportunity to attend the HR Summit, a special session dedicated to addressing the most pressing issues facing human resources professionals in 2017. One of these issues is undoubtedly the changing the political landscape and how the new White House administration will impact restaurants in the coming years. Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley of Align Public Strategies shared some of their insights on what may — and may not — change during President Trumps’ administration.

Local Issues

While there are plenty of issues that are under the president’s control, President Trump can influence but certainly can’t control issues at the state and local level. Local issues rose in importance during the Obama administration, when gridlock in Washington forced states and cities to address minimum wage, scheduling, paid family leave, and overtime rules.

Here are some examples of local issues that the President can’t control:

National Fight for $15 Campaign

In February 2014, President Obama proposed a national minimum wage of $10.10 per hour and signed an Executive Order that required this new minimum wage for federal contractors. Federal contractors became subject to the $10.10 per hour minimum wage on January 1, 2015.

In April 2014, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel was up for re-election. An alderman from the south side of Chicago, who was previously a community organizer and had Service Employees International Union (SEIU) backing him, pushed Emanuel into a runoff. Shortly thereafter, Emanuel ran on a platform of a $13 per hour minimum wage for the city.

Similarly, mayors in Kansas City and St. Louis both unveiled new minimum wage issues in order to avoid having a primary run from the left of the party. Both cities now have $15 per hour minimum wages. In New York, Bill de Blasio won as an SEIU candidate. Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges used to be against a local minimum wage increase and preferred a state or regional minimum wage. However, she changed her position and is now speaking at Fight for $15 rallies to win re-election.

The Fight for $15 won’t be going away anytime soon. Nineteen major cities have mayoral campaigns around this issue in 2017. Furthermore, although the 2016 election is in the history books, don’t forget that every minimum wage ballot measure passed in the last election.

Paid Leave Expansion/Pay Equity

Movement in these areas continues unabated at city and state levels.

The paid leave issue began in two to three cities with the support of roughly 500,000 activists. Paid leave is now in 30 jurisdictions and is growing organically. It is becoming a mainstream, apolitical issue and, according to Align Public Strategies, it enjoys an 80% approval rating. Jurisdictions that already have paid sick leave will amend legislation to include paid family and medical leave. This has already happened in Washington D.C. and Align Public Strategies believes that this bill will become the template for more cities.

Restrictive Scheduling and State Overtime Rules

Restrictive scheduling is a battle that the restaurant industry is losing in almost every jurisdiction. New York City is about to pass a law that will be the template for future bills in other jurisdictions. Additionally, states will revisit overtime rules, especially if they have Democratic governors and legislatures.

Wage Theft Enforcement

Once a city passes a $15 per hour minimum wage, an enforcement mechanism quickly follows. This is usually in the form of a wage board that ensures that employers comply with the minimum wage. This is a strategy that was developed by the labor community to eventually create mini-NLRBs throughout the country. A wage board is the first step towards this vision. In the future, the wage board could ensure compliance with leave laws, scheduling and other wage laws.

Los Angeles already has a wage board. Hilda Solis, the former Secretary of Labor, is currently on the city’s Board of Supervisors and is pioneering the local enforcement model.


During the Obama administration, gridlock in Washington forced change at the local and state level. There’s no sign that this momentum will stop anytime soon. It’s critical for the restaurant industry to get involved at the local level to protect their brands and interests.

Stay tuned for more insights from the HR Summit and the Global Best Practices Conference!

1f8e46dLiz D’Aloia is the founder of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso, Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follow her at @hrvirtuoso.

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