Payback Time


First a little housekeeping - in the interest of honesty and fairness, in the last Local 974 News, I wrote that workers in the LL Radiator Guard area were not allowed to call to have a crane/hoist inspected if it was shock-loaded when flipping a radiator guard. I have since learned that the information I received was inaccurate and that it was actually the workers who are choosing not to have the cranes inspected after a shock loading occurs. Apparently these individuals are under the impression that this is an acceptable practice-it is not.

Using a crane that has been shock-loaded is dangerous and we have had experience in East Peoria with a damaged crane coming down unexpectedly, severely injuring one of our members. If you know a crane has been shock-loaded, take it out of service and contact your supervisor immediately. As stated in the last edition, workers in the Radiator Guard area are anxiously awaiting the delivery of positioners that should eliminate the need to manually flip the radiator guards and the resultant shock loads to the crane/hoists.

As long as I am at it, I also put a notice in the last Local 974 News regarding an injury and illness survey I intended to conduct. This purpose of the survey was to provide data for a research project and the $100 for the drawing was coming from me as an incentive for people who wished to take the survey. At the request of the Executive Board, I did not conduct the survey until concerns voiced by the Board are addressed and approved. I will keep you abreast of any changes in the status of the survey/research project.

The take-home message for this article is really pretty simple—we cannot go backwards in health and safety.  The choices we have in the general election could not be more contrasting. President Obama’s administration has been a full-throated supporter of worker health and safety issues. OSHA under David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, has chosen an aggressive path towards employer compliance with existing health and safety laws. Mitt Romney, without a single fresh idea, would return to the failed focus on voluntary compliance embraced by the Bush administration.

Most OSHA chemical exposure regulations are based on outdated science. There was only one standard, the hexavalent chromium standard, that was updated during the entire 8 years of the Bush administration and that was the result of a court case. The fact that they reduced the permissible exposure limit (PEL) by a factor of ten, should be an indication of how dangerous these standards are.

When OSHA was signed into law by President Nixon in 1971, there was a truly bi-partisan effort to improve the lives of workers and their places of employment. Watch this video for excerpts of the signing of the OSHA Act and the pride with which President Nixon took in affixing his name to the law  .

Today, instead of bi-partisan support for the health and safety of every American worker, the Republican candidate for president and his party have this in their platform for the 2012 General Election, … Regulations must be drafted and implemented to balance legitimate public safety or consumer protection goals and job creation. You can read into this that your welfare and the companys bottom line are going to have equal weight when being considered for future regulations, but only if you're feeling generous. Furthermore, the platform states…But no peril justifies the regulatory impact of Obamacare on the practice of medicine, the Dodd-Frank Act on financial services, or the EPA’s and OSHA’s overreaching regulation agenda .

There is too much written into that one sentence not to look at one item at a time. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was modeled largely after the successful laws put in place in Massachusetts by then-governor Willard Mitt Romney. This was the crown jewel of his governorship and now he runs from it like the building is on fire.

The Dodd-Frank Act was a step in the right direction to re-regulate the financial industry that caused the near-depression in 2009. Banks and financial institutions became basically crap games with investment schemes betting for and against America and its citizens. Republicans are against this financial reform.

The animus towards the EPA is largely in part because it has worked and it costs money and takes resources to keep our air and water clean. Can the air and water you and your families breathe and drink really be too clean?

The issue Republicans have with OSHA concerns me greatly. OSHA has not been able to enact new regulations due to the stonewalling of Congressional Republicans.  OSHA's response has been able to aggressively enforce the laws already on the books. Additionally, OSHA is now headed by an actual health and safety professional instead of a partner from an anti-union law firm appointed by G.W. Bush .

You’ll hear time and time again, that this election is the most important one ever - until the next election. Please support the people who will support you. Mr. Romney was a successful businessman, but his personal financial successes cost thousands of people their jobs.  The office Romney seeks is President, not CEO and we have already had an MBA President - George W. Bush!

We’ve already heard the Republican recipe for success; it’s the same as always—more money for the rich. If you’d like to hear a fresh perspective on the wealthy and taxes, watch Nick Hanauer on YouTube . The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States under the name "horse and sparrow theory." The theory goes like this, 'If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.’

In closing, President Obama has earned our support and has done so with grace while withstanding withering attacks on nearly everything he has attempted to do. President Obama saved our country from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. We are getting out of the wars in the Middle East started by his predecessor. The number one enemy of the United States now rests at the bottom of the Northern Arabian Sea. GM and Chrysler are coming back, opening plants, offering great new union-made products and are supporting seven additional supplier jobs for each Big 3 worker. President Obama has supported working people and now it’s our time to support him.