Congress'' action killing the ergonomics standard coupled with pending action on budget and tax priorities is sending alarming signals to labor unions about the direction the new administration and Congress are taking.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney was alarmed that a worker health and safety rule was overturned by Congress for the first time in OSHA''s 30-year history.
"A Republican leadership juggernaut in the House resorted to arm-twisting and steamroller tactics to assure a majority to crush the ergonomics standard and deliver for their big business backers," said Sweeney. "In doing so, they wiped out a 10-year effort to establish protections for workers who suffer from crippling and disabling injuries. Surely this legislative efficiency could have been put to better purpose."
The congressional attack on OSHA''s ergonomics standard will put the health and safety of nursing home workers in particular at risk, said Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Andy Stern.
"The White House and leaders of Congress are scratching the backs of corporate special interests by breaking the backs of working people," said Stern. "Thousands of nursing home workers will have lifelong back and wrist injuries that could easily have been prevented."
Working in a nursing homes is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. Back injuries make up 27 percent of injuries in all private industries, but account for 42 percent of all injuries in nursing homes.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was quick to blamb Congressional Republicans for killing the worker safety rules.
"President Bush and Congressional Republicans are once again yielding to the wishes of special interests to the detriment of working families," said McAuliffe. "This action is an insult to hard-working Americans ... these regulations were put in place to protect people from the most prevalent injury facing American workers."
by Virginia Sutcliffe