The AFL-CIO posted an open letter to Rep. Issa (R-CA) from California Labor Federation Legislative Advocate Mitch Seaman reacting to an article in POLITICO about the Congressman seeking input from companies, business groups and think tanks on federal regulation. The AFL-CIO snidely and incorrectly cited part of the article that reported the National Association of Manufacturers’ call for oversight of OSHA’s regulatory proposals that would gut employer compliance programs (e.g. on-site consultation).
The National Association of Manufacturers responded to your request for marching orders by naming OHSA consultations as “high-priority regulations that can cost manufacturing jobs.” Not to nitpick, but OSHA consultations are free services provided by OSHA—or a state OSHA program—that identify potential hazards before they happen. This is a win-win that creates both safer and less expensive work environments. As workers, we are curious as to exactly how jobs are created by eliminating a free service that saves employers money and reduces workplace injury.
Marching orders? What silliness.
Still, we’re pleased to see the labor group’s apparent agreement with the NAM about the value of the consultation program, as the blogger describes them as “a free service that saves employers money and reduces workplace injury.” Absolutely. We feel strongly that OSHA should not hinder a successful program that allows small businesses to voluntarily approach OSHA for advice on how to make their businesses both more productive and safer for their employees. The NAM joined with numerous other organizations in the Coalition for Workplace Safety’s comments to OSHA which urged the agency not to remove important aspects of the program that encourage company participation. It’s rare when the AFL-CIO and the NAM can find common ground on policy, but we were optimistic that we may have found a new ally in our effort to protect an important OSHA program.
Labor’s newfound support is especially welcome since the AFL-CIO submitted comments to the agency’s regulatory proposal calling for major changes that would have made it much more difficult for employers to use the OSHA program effectively. Let’s hope that the members of the California Labor Federation can make AFL-CIO’s staff in Washington aware of why they agree with the NAM when they describe the program as a “win-win that creates both safer and less expensive work environments.”