House Republican Budget Continues War on Worker Safety

Budget War on Worker SafetyThe House of Representatives continued to wage its never-ending war on working people yesterday when the House Rules Committee voted to add 58 mostly anti-worker amendments to an already un-labor-friendly FY 2018 Labor-HHS Appropriations budget bill. That bill, you may remember, slashed the OSHA and MSHA enforcement budgets and eliminated the Susan Harwood Training Grant program.  The House report had complained that “overreliance on enforcement in recent years has fostered a toxic environment between the agency and employers that is undermining the agency’s goals for workplace safety and is at odds with Federal policies that support economic growth and job creation.”

Working under the assumption that economic growth and job creation are incompatible with breathing, the Republicans are offering an amendment that would prohibit OSHA from enforcing its silica standard. The standard is already in effect for construction workers, but OSHA had postponed enforcement of its provisions until September 23.  Another amendment would prohibit OSHA from enforcing its new recordkeeping rule which requires employers to send injury and illness information in to OSHA and prohibit employers from retaliating against workers for reporting injuries or illnesses. That retaliation sections of that rule are already in effect and employers are required to send data to OSHA by December 1. Another amendment would further reduce funding for MSHA, just when mine deaths are on the rise.

Working under the assumption that economic growth and job creation are incompatible with breathing, the Republicans are proposing amendments that would prohibit OSHA from enforcing its silica standard.

For those workers still alive and uninjured, Politico helpfully provides a summary of other anti-worker Republican amendments

to reduce funding for the NLRB ; to prevent the NLRB from implementing a 2014 rule intended to speed up union elections; to prohibit use of federal funds “to implement, administer, or enforce the Davis-Bacon Act,” which requires that the government pay local prevailing wages (typically union scale) on federal construction projects… and to block enforcement of an Obama administration executive order that encourages agencies to use project labor agreements on large construction projects. (PLAs are collective bargaining agreements struck with unions before hiring begins on a federal construction project.)

The full House will debate and start voting on these amendments and the full bill this afternoon.

But don’t panic.  The Senate is reportedly working on a “bipartisan” Appropriations bill which guarantees that it won’t be as bad as the House version. The Senate began meeting on its version yesterday, but we haven’t heard any details so far.

FY 2018 begins October 1, although Congress is expected to pass a “Continuing Resolution” which will continue funding as approximately last year’s level for the next several months until a final FY 2018 budget can be agreed on.

Stay tuned.

Budget MSHA OSHA Recordkeeping Silica

2 Comments

  1. Is the recordkeeping site available and secure, enabling us to enter our information? jordanbarab.com/confinedspace/2017/08/17/osha-shuts-down-recordkeeping-webpage/

    The website was supposed to be available in February under the Obama requirements. The administrations have had numerous website development issues in the past, I am concerned about employee information security. Will I be sued if HIPPA protected information is released publicly due to the lack of security on the website? How many millions are we going to spend on a website that doesn’t work, MSHA’s works great?

    1. All good questions. A few answers:
      1. The website was ready in February, but the new administration delayed it, eventually moving the final deadline from July 1 to December 1.
      2. We used some very good web developers to put this website together, so I think everyone is confident that it’s working. It’s been up now for a month and aside from a suspected data breach, that wasn’t really a data breach, it seems to be working fine.
      3. The only information that is being submitted now is a summary of injuries and illnesses. There is no HIPPA information, or any potentially confidential information. Next year, more information will be sent in. Very little of that is potentially confidential (and none HIPPA-protected). Safeguards have been taken to ensure that that information is protected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *