Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tell them what you think

Jordan Barab over at Confined Space has so many great posts it's impossible to comment on all of them (well, it's not impossible, of course, but pointless; you should read HIM about him, not ME about him). But so much is important I feel compelled to post about what he says periodically anyway. And now I've got another kind of problem, which is this: what he has up now is so important (and also relatively lengthy) I can't easily summarize it. You really need to go and read it (unless you have hypertension; then you might reconsider adding some more millimeters of mercury to your systolic and diastolic numbers). I'll give you a little bit to start you off.

Jordan begins with a brief review of occupational health and safety status and numbers as Congress returns after its Summer break:
  • More than 5,500 workers die in accidents every year in American workplaces, and tens of thousands more die each year from occupational diseases.
  • Small businesses routinely try to cut corners by not using trench boxes or safe scaffolds and fall protection, and workers die as a result.
  • Giant oil companies that can't even get their alarms or monitoring devices to work blame their employees for an explosion that kills 15 and injures hundreds.
  • OSHA can only get to a miniscule fraction of American workplaces each year. At its current staffing and inspection levels, it would take federal OSHA 108 years to inspect each workplace under its jurisdiction just once.
  • Even when it cites an employer for killing or seriously injuring a worker, the fines are generally insigificant even in situations that they knew were deadly. The penalty for harassing a burro on federal land is one year in jail. In fact, killing fish and crabs draw larger penalties than killing workers.
  • 8.5 million state and local government employees still have no legal right to a safe workplace.
  • Most of the chemical standards that OSHA is enforcing were determined in the 1950's and 1960's.
  • Meanwhile, the agency has all but stopped issuing standards to protect workers against numerous preventable hazards that kill and injure hundreds and thousands every year.
OK, grim, I know. What is really grim, however, is what Congress will likely decide to do about these numbers. They are going to give us some more numbers. Here they are: H.R. 739, H.R. 740, H.R 741, and H.R.742.
On Tuesday, July 12, instead of helping workers by addressing some of the problems listed above, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is planning to pass four bills (H.R. 739, H.R. 740, H.R 741, and H.R.742) that will further weaken worker protections. In the words Congressman Major Owens (D-NY) and George Miller (D-CA), "Taken together, these one-sided bills rollback safety and health protections for millions of American workers."
You need to go over to Confined Space and read about these legislative monstrosities. Nobody can do "justice" to them, but you can at least read about them and be nauseated.

Here's Doc Jordan's prescription:
Call, fax or e-mail your Congressman or woman and tell them to oppose ALL of these bills (H.R. 739, H.R. 740, H.R 741, and H.R.742). We need to strengthen OSHA, not weaken it.

Every House member should be called. Even if they're solidly pro-labor or solidly anti-labor they all need to hear that American workers are concerned about weakening OSHA.

The following Representatives need special attention. The same bills were voted on last year and the following Democrats voted wrong on at least one of them: Bishop (GA), Boyd (FL), Cardin (MD), Case (HI), Cooper (TN), Cramer (AL), Davis (FL), Davis (TN), Edwards (TX), Gonzalez (TX), Gordon (TN), Harman (CA), Matheson (UT), Marshall (GA), McIntyre (NC), Rahall (WV), Skelton (MO) , Spratt (SC), Tanner (TN), Taylor (MS), and Wynn (MD).

Urge them to vote against ALL of these bills on Tuesday.

The following Republicans voted correctly on at least one of the bills: Boehlert (NY), King (NY), LaTourette (OH), LoBiondo (NJ), McHugh (NY), Saxton (NJ), Shays (CT), Smith (NJ) Sensenbrenner (WI), and Sweeney (NY).
That last bit is really pathetic. Eleven Republicans (including a few real scumbags) actually had a better voting record than 22 Democrats on protecting workers. Those Democrats deserve to hear from their constituents. Tell 'em what you think of this.

Update 7/12/05: We told 'em but they didn't care. All four of the OSHA destruction bills passed the House today. You can read the gory details on how bad these verminous bills are at the Confined Space link, above, but in case you don't you should know the names of the Democratic CongressThings that voted for this crap. Here they are, courtesy Confined Space:
Here's the list of Dems who can be taken off of your Christmas list. If you're in their district, call and let them know you're unhappy [Jordan's too nice; instead tell them to go fuck themselves (Revere)]:

H.R. 739,Occupational Safety and Health Small Business Day in Court Act (256-164)
: Baird (WA), Bean (IL), Bishop (GA), Boren (OK), Boyd (FL), Case (HI), Cooper, Costa (CA), Cramer (AL), Cuellar (TX), Davis (FL), Davis (TN), Edwards (TX), Ford (TN), Gonzalez (TX), Gordon (TN), Harman (CA), Herseth (SD), Lipinski (IL), Marshall (GA), Matheson (UT), McIntyre (NC), Mollohan (WV), Rahall (WV), Salazar (CO), Skelton (MO), Tanner (TN), Taylor (MS), Udall (CO), Velazquez (NY), Wynn (MD).

H.R. 740 Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission Efficiency Act (234-185): Boren (OK), Boyd (FL), Case (HI), Cramer (AL), Cuellar (TX), Gordon (TN), Matheson (UT), Taylor (MS)

H.R. 741 Occupational Safety and Health Independent Review of OSHA Citations Act (226-197): Boren (OK), Boyd (FL), Case (HI), Cramer (AL), Cuellar (TX), Davis (TN), Marshall (GA), Matheson (UT), Taylor (MS)

H.R. 742 Occupational Safety and Health Small Employer Access to Justice Act (235-187): Bishop (GA), Boren (OK), Boyd (FL), Case (HA), Cooper (TN), Costa (CA), Cramer (AL), Cuellar (TX), Davis (TN), Edwards (TX), Ford (TN), Gonzalez (TX), Matheson (UT), Tanner (TN) NY), Taylor (MS), Velazquez (NY), Wynn (MD).