The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ergonomic standards under attack
– and they weren't much to begin with

Mar 5, 2001

In the last days of his administration, Clinton finally enacted legislation on ergonomic standards for the work place. On the first days of the Bush administration, Republican senators proposed to repeal these ergonomics standards.

A legislative affairs director for the AFL-CIO, arguing against what the Bush administration is proposing, said, "This vote will set the tone, not only for this Congress but for this administration, coming as early as it does."

Undoubtedly. But it's also true that Clinton's action, coming as late as it did, shows exactly what the Democrats are: the party that pretends to be labor's friend while serving big business.

What Clinton could have done, as Bush did, was to enact legislation he wanted in the very beginning of his administration –eight years ago. Then the regulations would have been much more resistant to change. In any case, they would have prevented certain injuries, such as those from awkward positions or from repetitive motions, for the last eight years.

According to official statistics, which we know under-report the injuries which actually occur in the workplace, almost two million injuries were reported, and about 600,000 workers were off the job with these kinds of injuries last year.

If Clinton had issued the regulations early, millions of people would not have suffered these workplace injuries.

Nothing shows the political games played in Washington better than Clinton's issuing new standards at the last minute –when they don't count!