ERGONOMICS STANDARD AXED
On March 7 Congress voted narrowly to repeal OSHA’s new ergonomics standard, a severe blow to millions of American workers. The vote was largely along partisan lines. The House backed the repeal bill 223 to 206. Sixteen Democrats, who represent states with low union density, broke ranks to support the bill. Meanwhile 13 Republicans, most from heavily unionized states such as New York and New Jersey, voted to maintain the ergonomic standard.
Labor mobilized strongly – both for the passage of the new workplace safety regulations and then to defeat the bill repealing them. In New York City, NYCOSH (the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health) and the Central Labor Council mobilized unions to lobby Congress. Local 802 wrote several letters and made many phone calls to Republican members of the state’s Congressional delegation arguing that the repeal of these safety regulations would hurt musicians, many of whom suffer from repetitive strain injuries. The following House Republicans ultimately voted to maintain the ergonomics standard: Boehlert, Gilman, Grucci, King, McHugh and Quinn from New York; Ferguson, LoBiondo, Saxton and Smith from New Jersey; Weldon (Pennsylvania), Horn (California) and Petri (Wisconsin).
The White House has announced support of the repeal, and lawmakers said they expected President Bush to sign the legislation soon.
OPPOSE BUSH’S BUDGET AND TAX PLAN
President Bush’s budget and tax plan is the biggest threat in 20 years to everything the labor movement has fought for.
The tax cut is simply unfair, with 43 percent going to those Americans who earn an average of $1 million or more. The top 1 percent of households will have their federal taxes cut 10 times as much as the bottom 20 percent, as a percentage of income. The President’s tax cuts for millionaires are almost enough to pay for comprehensive prescription drugs for all seniors.
His proposed budget also threatens Medicare and Social Security. President Bush would use the entire Medicare surplus of $526 billion, by transferring the costs of doctor payments to the Medicare trust fund. The Social Security surplus would be depleted by $700 billion, to be used for privatization of Social Security, resulting in benefit cuts for tens of millions of Americans.
Although President Bush campaigned as a supporter of education, his projected increase in education spending is not enough to meet the needs for smaller class sizes, school construction, and enough trained teachers. The President reduces spending in almost all domestic programs, on the environment and on housing.
Local 802 urges our members to write to President Bush and voice your opposition.
NYC COUNCIL CONSIDERING RESOLUTION ON WBAI
On Feb. 7 the New York City Council introduced Resolution 1723, supporting democratic, legal management at WBAI 99.5 FM Radio. The resolution affirms the position of “Concerned Friends of WBAI,” calling for, among many other things, the reinstatement of all fired staff and the immediate guarantee that all staff, paid and unpaid, be included in WBAI’s collective bargaining agreement. “The lockout and banning of WBAI staff and Listener Advisory Board members are the actions of a renegade management brazenly trying to consolidate power over a community organization,” said Councilmember Christine Quinn, one of the initiators of the legislation. “These actions are not only reprehensible but appear to be totally illegal. Union contracts have been grossly violated, the station’s own bylaws have been circumvented, and the listeners – the activists who created WBAI – have been summarily excluded from essential decision-making.” Quinn told Allegro that a strong coalition of community groups, elected officials and unions will continue to oppse the takeover “until WBAI is returned to the community.”
802 members have been attending rallies and writing letters to protest the series of actions the Pacifica Foundation has taken to undermine democracy at WBAI (see article in February Allegro).