More Budget Follies – CDC Edition: We’ve discussed Trump’s FY 18 budget proposal. OSHA and MSHA don’t come out too badly (except for the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program.) NIOSH and the Chemical Safety Board, on the other hand, not so well. Somewhat overlooked in terms of worker (and public safety) is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An article earlier this week described how Trump’s hiring freeze has left 700 CDC positions vacant, and yesterday we learned that Trump’s proposed budget cuts $1.2 billion, or 17%, from the agency. The CDC responds to disease outbreaks in the United States and around the world, makes sure food and water are safe, and helps people avoid heart disease, cancer, stroke and other leading causes of death. Among the disease outbreaks it responds to are ebola, pandemic flu, MERS, SARS, Zika and thousands of others. When those diseases hit American shores, health care workers are on the front lines, and CDC also develops infection control guidance to protect health care workers from being infected. Because as catastrophic as any major disease epidemic would be for this country, it will be far worse if ranks of the nation’s front line health care workers are wiped out.
Labor Department: Investigate Thyself: A group of Senators has asked the Labor Department’s Inspector General to look into some Trump administration initiatives that they fear will hurt worker safety and health. The Senators, Elizabeth Warren, Patty Murray D-WA, Al Franken D-MN, Bob Casey, D-Pa., Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. sent a letter asking why the Labor Department has stopped issuing enforcement-related press releases, and why they are delaying 0r trying to roll back the beryllium and silica standards.
Trump Regulatory Policy: Illegal and Irrational. Otherwise OK: Trump’s Executive order requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for every additional worker or environmental protection they issue, is not only unconstitutional but irrational as well argues Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen. First, the policy only looks at costs, and not benefits. Second, the Administrative Procedure Act and other legislation don’t allow agencies to take away protections just because they’re adding new ones.
Dreams do come true! Gas drilling companies can’t believe their eyes at all the good things happening at EPA. People in the neighborhood who care about their water quality not so much. The NY Times has an in-depth article about how for one drilling company polluter, everything is going their way. The industry is delighted. “Not in our wildest dreams, never did we expect to get everything,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of Western Energy Alliance, a Denver-based association of independent oil and gas companies. “We were kind of used to getting punished.”
It’s possible that all this chumminess between Trump and the oil & gas industry is related to the industry’s huge contributions to Trumps inauguration and increased lobbying. Read the Center for Public Integrity’s report and decide for yourself.
Trump to Injured Workers: Eat Squirrel and Shut Up: An article on the Trump Administration’s proposals to add more stringent work requirements to limit eligibility for food stamps and other benefits highlights “Tim Keefe, an out-of-work and homeless Navy veteran, [who] used his military training to catch, skin and eat squirrels, roasting the animals over an open fire outside the tent he pitched in frigid Augusta, Maine.” Keefe was thrown off the food stamp program by the state of Maine (which has requirements similar to what Trump wants nationwide) despite the fact that he can’t find work because of an on-the-job injury.
How to Find Everything You Ever Wanted to Know — On Line: Workplace health and safety experts with the“Learning and Developing of Occupational Health Foundation” in the Netherlands have provided a free, updated on-line resource for finding occupational health and safety information.In English and Spanish. To repeat: “free,” although they would not turn down a contribution.
Trump is Pro-Worker Like Colonel Sanders is Pro-Chicken: If there’s anyone out there who still thinks Trump is pro-worker or pro-union, they should read Sharon Block’s account of how his proposed FY 18 budget increases funding for DOL’s Office of Labor Management Standards, the agency that investigates union corruption, and then significantly cuts funding for the National Labor Relations Board, the agency that protects the rights of workers and unions. Sharon, a former DOL official, is the Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School.