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Nov. 2, 2017 by Katie Tracy

Questions for Scott Mugno, Trump's Pick to Lead OSHA

Scott Mugno, Vice President for Safety, Sustainability, and Vehicle Maintenance at Fed Ex Ground in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is President Trump's pick to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although whispers of Mugno's possible nomination had spread across Washington, D.C., over the past several months, not much has been said about his credentials for the job. One major concern is Mugno's connection to the notoriously anti-regulatory U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for which he is currently the chairman of the OSHA subcommittee of the group's Labor Relations Committee. And as Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA, highlights in his excellent blog post on the nomination, Mugno expressed interest in sunsetting OSHA standards in comments he made at a Chamber event last year. 

When Mugno goes before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for confirmation hearings, it will be imperative for senators to get him on the record on the important worker health, safety, and economic issues of our time. With an average of 13 workers dying on the job every day and suffering even more injuries, one thing we know for sure is that if Mugno is confirmed as Assistant Secretary at …

Oct. 30, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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Too often, workplace injuries and deaths result from company policies and practices that encourage and reward unacceptably risky behavior under the false pretense that cutting corners is standard practice and no one will get hurt. As a result, an average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every day, and many more are seriously injured. 

Click to visit Crimes Against Workers DatabaseIn many cases, these tragedies and the grave pain they impose on the victims' families, friends, and communities are preventable with basic safety measures. Nevertheless, employers and authorities commonly treat work-related deaths and injuries as "accidents" rather than investigating them as potential crimes. They simply pass these cases off to regulators at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or a state counterpart, which conducts an investigation and assesses what amounts to an insignificant civil penalty – a fine that can be as small as a few thousand dollars. Then, everyone …

Sept. 15, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thousands of Texans and Floridians are out of work, some indefinitely. Without knowing when their employers might reopen for business (if at all) , many are uncertain how they're going to afford their next meal or purchase basic necessities, much less repair their damaged homes and property. At the same time, monthly bills are coming due.

Vice News recently shared one Houston family’s gripping story of how Harvey has devastated them financially. Guadalupe and her husband are undocumented immigrants living in Houston with their three daughters. He works as an electrician, and like many families across the country, they live paycheck-to-paycheck and do not have savings adequate to withstand an emergency. As Hurricane Harvey approached, Guadalupe’s husband was sent home early from work, and as of the time Vice ran its story on September 2, he had …

July 24, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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When President Trump released his spring Unified Agenda last week, he made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in protecting workers from occupational injuries and diseases. The White House released the agenda amid what it called “Made in America” week, but instead of recognizing workers and advocating for safe and healthy jobs and fair wages, Trump brought manufacturers to the nation’s capital to show off their products. When it comes to working families, Trump is ignoring what should be his highest priority – ensuring that every person who leaves home for a job in the morning returns at the end of the day without injury or illness.

The regulatory agenda for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is devoid of any plans that would address the litany of significant health and safety hazards workers face on a daily basis. Rather, OSHA has cut down …

July 21, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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On Monday, July 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened a public meeting to hear input from stakeholders about how the agency might grow and strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). Given the change in administration, the announcement was no surprise. 

Growing the VPP had also been a priority of the George W. Bush administration, during which time OSHA made plans to add thousands of new participants despite having no evidence the program improved worker health and safety. Resource constraints ultimately tempered OSHA’s expansion plans, but not before the agency had damaged the VPP and eroded its integrity. With this history in mind, I attended this week’s stakeholder meeting to urge the agency to learn from the past and reevaluate the VPP’s performance and cost-effectiveness before it moves to expand it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the Department of Labor (DOL …

May 26, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request may be DOA in Congress, but it nonetheless offers critical insight into how he expects to pay for his border wall, increase defense spending, offer up a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, and carry out his other pet projects, all while cutting corporate taxes. The bottom line is that he intends to eliminate some public programs and rob many others, and give that money to private corporations. The Trump budget proposal to slash funding for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compared to the FY 2016 appropriations is a perfect example, although he’s proposed similarly drastic cuts, unfortunately, to many other non-defense programs in the budget.

While OSHA would suffer less drastic cuts than some other agencies, the targeted precision of these cuts—focused squarely on programs with such direct positive effects for workers—disproves Trump’s claim to be …

April 26, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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Every worker has a right to a safe job. Yet on an average day of the week, 13 U.S. workers die on the job due to unsafe working conditions. An additional 137 lives are lost daily due to occupational diseases – mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, among others. 

On Friday – Workers' Memorial Day – we will stand with the families, friends, and colleagues of fallen workers to remember each of them as individuals whose lives represent much more than a statistic. We will also renew our vow to fight for workers' rights so that every single person who leaves home for a job in the morning returns at the end of the day with all their limbs accounted for and with their health intact. 

Workers, advocates, and forward-thinking companies have already developed many worthy ideas to improve working conditions across the nation. Some basic changes we could make that …

Jan. 30, 2017 by Katie Tracy
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The Senate Labor Committee will hold a confirmation hearing Feb. 7 on President Donald Trump's nomination of Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. If confirmed by a vote of the full Senate, Puzder will oversee all of the agencies and departments within the Department of Labor, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

This is troubling, to say the least, because a look at Puzder's record and public statements on labor issues suggests he is not the right person for the job: he believes in cutting worker protections, not strengthening them. 

Puzder currently serves as CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of fast-food chains Carl's Jr., Hardee's, Green Burrito, and Red Burrito. On the CKE website, Puzder's biography touts his nickname by some as …

Oct. 5, 2016 by Katie Tracy
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When it comes to worker health and safety, preventing injuries and illnesses is the number one goal. It was for this very purpose that Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with setting and enforcing strong workplace standards. But when preventative measures fail and workers are harmed, agency enforcement actions against the employer (while necessary) don't provide legal redress to workers or their families for the damages they've incurred. Instead, recovering damages often necessitates they hire a private attorney to help them navigate this complex area of the law. 

The attorneys who take these cases play a critical role in workers' rights advocacy, and their experience offers a unique perspective that can help advocates better understand the challenges workers face and opportunities for overcoming them. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with …

Sept. 21, 2016 by Katie Tracy
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Federal contractors that violate labor laws not only cheat workers by disregarding their rights to fair pay and safe workplaces, but they also tend to run into unexpected costs and delays during performance of the contracts they're awarded. With this in mind, in 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13673, which seeks to improve cost savings and efficiency in government contracting by requiring prospective contractors to disclose labor law violations and obligating contracting agencies to review those violations before awarding contracts. The E.O. also requires federal contractors to provide employees with wage statements that include certain information so that workers can verify the accuracy of their paychecks. 

Consistent with the E.O.'s directives, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council and Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule and guidance, respectively, in the Federal Register on Aug. 25. The Center for Progressive …

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