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WEAR THOSE HI-VIZ VESTS
From a OSHA news release earlier this week: “Willful violations (involving penalties against Cannon Builders Inc. of Blackfoot, Idaho) involve the employer's failure to provide and enforce the wearing of high visibility vests by employees working on heavily traveled roadways, and to provide adequate fall protection for employees.”
JOBS TRUMP SAFETY EVERY TIME
No politician that we know of every won an election on a safe jobs platform.
After the dog days, come September, you’ll see campaigning kick into high gear for all House of Representative seats and one-third of the Senate seats. Democrats threatened with losing their majority in the House will emphasis these hot-button issues: Keep manufacturing in America; Protect Social Security; Consumer Protection; Small Business Protection; Honor troops and vets.
Nothing on worker protection.
OBAMA & SOLIS ADDRESS AFL-CIO
Today, President Obama addresses the AFL-CIO Executive Council during its meeting in Washington, D.C. It is the first day of the two-day meeting â€” and also the president’s 49th birthday.
Obama spoke to the AFL-CIO Convention last September in Pittsburgh. In that speech, he said he’s committed to the same goals as the union movement: restoring the economy, securing health care for everyone and passing the Employee Free Choice Act.
Nothing on worker protection.
The two-day Executive Council meeting, Aug. 4–5, will focus on the jobs crisis and the crucial mid-term elections and how best to ensure that working people are mobilized to vote.
Nothing on OSHA issues.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis also will meet with the council on Thursday. She most likely will spend a couple of sentences talking about the new sheriff in town.
WHY JOBS TRUMP SAFETY
Check out these comments posted this week on the AFL-CIO’s blog:
“WE ARE _______ DYING OUT HERE!!! NO JOBS–NO BENEFITS = NO HOPE!!!!”
“Another meaningless cheerleading session by Obama; he’ll say all the right things about ‘if you want a union, you should get one’ and the AFL will applaud, forgetting that Obama has done absolutely nothing to lead the way on any labor issue.
“At a time when we need real leadership and a federally funded massive jobs program, Obama is squandering taxpayers’ money fighting a losing battle in Afghanistan – propping up a corrupt regime, bribing warlords and enabling war crimes.
“What a farce and another reminder that we need an alternative to the failed Democrat party and its Republican-lite policies.”
“Is there anyone on the AFL-CIO Executive Council capable of critical thinking on behalf of not only organized workers, but the vast majority of increasingly impoverished working people?”
“We have to convince voters to vote FOR politicians who FULLY support working families and are not swayed by big business lobbying groups. We need politicians to LISTEN to average workers especially those who are not earning their just wages! Why can’t we all get on the same page and fight for the rights of workers to enjoy a living wage and decent benefits after working at one place for x# of years. It’s our fault that some of us are getting screwed by our employers by the way we vote in the elections!!!”
BOTTOM LINE: Give me a secure job, a just wage, a living wage, decent benefits, then I’ll worry about my safety on the job.
One reason Dems are treading lighting on the rebound in OSHA’s aggressive in the past year: are they saving lives or killing jobs? With stubbornly high unemployment and all sorts of consumer insecurity about finding or holding on to jobs, a robust OSHA is easily painted by opponents as a cold job-killing regulator putting small businesses out of business.
HEY, A VPP ANNOUNCEMENT
We haven’t read many of these in the past year as the new sheriff has been busy enforcing laws. But this week OSHA announced:
“Northrop Grumman Corporation’s shipbuilding facility in Gulfport, Miss. has been recognized for exemplary shipyard safety and received ‘star’ status in the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-sponsored Voluntary Protection Program (VPP).
Clyde Payne, OSHA area director for Mississippi, commended the "culture of safety and health" that made the VPP star designation possible.
"It's great to see such a positive environment where everyone works together cooperatively for safety and health," said Payne. "This is the most prestigious level of safety and health recognition worldwide. Star status recognizes that the injury and illness rates are below industry average. It is a magnificent accomplishment. Now the shipbuilders must continue to move forward to help others in the community and to set an example for safety and health."
POLITICAS UNDERMINES SAFETY – AGAIN
Job safety never gets out of the shadow of labor-management politicking. Take these comments by Leo W. Gerard, president of United Steelworkers International, posted Monday on The Hill’s Congress Blog:
“The motivation of corporations like BP and Massey Energy is pure. Purely profit. Their goal is to maximize returns for investors and bonuses for officers.
“Corporate operation is a simple equation. Profits first. Communities, workers and pelicans â€” third. Or lower.
“Now, in the span of one month, workplace explosions killed seven Washington state workers at the Tesoro Anacortes oil refinery, 29 West Virginia workers in Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, and 11 Gulf workers on the rig drilling the BP well.
This is the cost of eviscerated government. The terrible events of April 2010 clarify the choice for the electorate. America can continue to cash-starve and clout-curtail regulatory and enforcement agencies, adhering to the fad philosophy that all government is evil, even government that mandates mining corporations remove explosive methane and coal dust. Or America can reject that dangerous diatribe and demand a just government that protects the vulnerable.
“The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents oil workers, and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) have strived to place safeguards in collective bargaining contracts. And that’s reasonably successful. For example, of the 34 miners killed last year, only one was a UMWA member. This year, of the 51 killed, not one was a UMWA miner. Unfortunately, those numbers also mean union contracts don’t protect non-union workers.
“Employers like Massey take full advantage of that. Massey shut down union mines. After all, the costs of worker safety cut profits and bonuses. Massey’s Upper Big Branch, scene of the worst mining disaster in 40 years, was not a union mine.
That leaves government to force safety on corporations. But in an environment where government is unceasingly derided as ‘the problem,’ corporations have thumbed their noses at regulation and enforcement. Mining companies like Massey have appealed vast numbers of violation citations issued by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), clogging the deliberative process and thwarting action to suspend work in unsafe mines.
“Basic to both the Texas City and Deepwater Horizon catastrophes is BP’s obsession with profit. Federal regulators blamed the Texas City explosion in part on BP cost-cutting. Survivors of the rig explosion told CNN that BP routinely cut corners and pushed production despite potential safety problems and that workers had been fired for raising concerns about dangerous practices.
“In a properly functioning democracy, the government prevents powerful corporations like Massey and BP from imperiling people for profit.”
You can demonize corporate America or demonize OSHA. Grandstanding speechifying makes it all too black and white: Greedy corporations place profits before people, or OSHA ignores the lousy economy and puts businesses on the brink of bankruptcy.
Nuance, shades of gray, never go over well in politics. Keep it simple. What, do pols think we’re stupid? You know the answer to that one…