Chicago Ergo Hearings Open With Testimony from UAW Members

Several UAW members and health and safety officials who testified Tuesday said the nation's workers have already waited too long for ergonomic protection.

After United Auto Worker Health and Safety Director Frank Mirer testified at the opening hearings in Washington on the proposed ergonomics standard, the Chicago hearing began with testimony from UAW members.

Penny Sieder was one of the witnesses who told OSHA representatives she considers herself lucky following a repetitive motion injury, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Sieder who worked as a riveter at the Master Lock Co. factory in Milwaukee thought she would have to live with numbness in her fingers for the rest of her life. Eventually, surgery was able to solve the problem.

"I just worry about people who work in small companies or places without a union, where they are just numbers and they bleed them," Sieder testified.

UAW has been in favor of the proposed ergonomic rule since the debate began.

"There is no going back to the pre-ergonomic days. After seeing the light, we are not going back into the darkness," said Jim Buskus, a health and safety official with UAW Local 719 at General Motors' Electromotive Division.

Although Buskus and other UAW members praised the Big Three automakers and other large corporations for carrying out their own ergonomics policies, they said workers need a government policy to rely on.

Those who testified for the union said many workers at companies with ergonomics policies still fear that if they come forward they will be penalized for voicing their complaints.

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