Fight Over Ergonomics Switches To telephone your Representative and/or Senators,
to the Appropriations Ring
On Wednesday, June 23, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce marked up the so-called Workplace Preservation Act, H.R. 987. This bill, better known as the Blunt bill after its sponsor Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), would prevent OSHA from issuing its proposed ergonomics standard for another two years, until the National Academy of Science completes a second Congressionally-mandated ergonomics study. The markup was attended by about 70 members of AFL-CIO affiliates. All 23 Democratic member of the Committee were present for the markup and virtually all of them spoke out strongly against the bill. Unfortunately, the Republicans have more members on the Committee, and the bill was reported out of Committee on a nearly party line vote. Only Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.) voted with the Democrats against the bill.
Some unions oppose the Blunt bill, and its companion in the Senate - the Bond bill (S. 1070) - because there is ample scientific evidence that many musculoskeletal injuries, such as lower back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome, are caused by heavy lifting, vibrations, or repetitive motions at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration first began working on the ergonomics regulation nearly ten years ago. There have been over 2000 studies demonstrating the link between lifting or repetitive strains on the job and musculoskeletal injuries. The Blunt bill and the Bond bill are nothing more than a delay tactic to keep OSHA from issuing an ergonomics regulation now, in hopes that a Republican president will be elected in 2000 and will kill the regulation.
It is expected that Senator Bond (R-Mo.) will attempt to include the Senate version of the bill in the Labor HHS appropriations bill expected to be marked up by the Senate Appropriations Committee after the Fourth of July Congressional recess. On the House side, proponents of the Blunt bill may try to bring it to a vote by the full House or may try to include it as a "rider" to a House appropriations bill.
It is important that members let their Senators and Representatives know that you are opposed to the Blunt/Bond bills and that you do not want the ergonomics standard to be delayed any longer. You can access detailed information about the bills on the AFL-CIO website. The AFL-CIO has set up a toll-free number to Capitol Hill.
Call your Congressional representatives today! Urge them to support the ergonomics standard and to oppose the Blunt/Bond bills. In particular, tell them to oppose any effort to add these anti-worker measures to the Labor-HHS or any other appropriations bills.
you can call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at
and ask for their offices.