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Union Uses Ergonomics Ads Against Republicans

Could U.S. senators lose an election because they voted against OSHA's ergonomic standard? The AFL-CIO appears to hope so.

The union is running political advertisements against Sens. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark., and Susan Collins, R-Me., charging they "voted twice with the big corporations to block safety rules" that would protect workers from repetitive stress injuries.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) blasted the ads. "Revisionists are at work with bogus and biased political attacks," commented Chris Tampio, NAM's director of employment policy. He noted that the union has not attacked Arkansas's other senator, Democrat Blanche Lincoln, who also voted to rescind OSHA's ergonomics rule.

The union's silence may be explained by the fact that Lincoln is not faced with a re-election bid this year. However, no ads are being used against two other Democrats who are running for re-election and who opposed the ergo rule: Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Max Baucus of Montana.

A spokesperson for AFL-CIO explained that Lincoln, Landrieu and Baucus are co-sponsoring the Breaux bill, S. 2184, which once it became law would direct OSHA to issue a new ergonomics standard within two years.

Tampio said that Hutchinson has a long record of voting for legislation aimed at creating jobs, while "the union bosses who are bashing him out of Washington would rather see lots of new regulations and the lucrative lawsuits they bring."

The advertisement focuses on Dana Davies, a woman who says she faces losing her house, credit and everything she has worked hard for because of her permanent injuries.

While not urging viewers to vote for a particular candidate, the ad running in Arkansas closes with, "Call Sen. Hutchinson and tell him to stop putting corporate profit ahead of worker safety."

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