ASSE President James "Skipper" Kendrick, CSP, applauded the president for including in his recent Labor Day speech the statement, "We expect there to be a fair playing field when it comes to trade." However, Kendrick noted, many ASSE members work in manufacturing and share the concern that, too often, the companies they work for must compete on an unfair playing field that favors manufacturing worksites in other countries.
"For our members who strive to ensure safe and healthy workplaces for their companies' employees, 'unfair' specifically means that their employers' competitors in foreign companies far too often are exempt from providing even similar kinds of protections for worker health and safety that Americans enjoy," Kendrick said.
He said ASSE is urging Bush to include the issue of worker safety, health and environmental protections when the administration follows up on its stated expectation that there be a "fair playing field" when it comes to trade.
"Our members report positive experiences in the past working with the Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs in beginning to move the issue of international occupational safety and health standards forward," Kendrick continued. "We are also pleased to see that the assistant secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, John Henshaw, is engaged with Canada and Mexico in the Trinational Occupational Safety and Health Working Group. Our hope is that this cooperative effort to improve worker safety and health in these three countries not only succeeds but also becomes an established expectation in our trade relations with all countries."