It’s hard to believe that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects worker safety data with a system that is better suited for the Stone Age than the Information Age. Right now, OSHA relies on data sources that are too limited to allow the agency to effectively respond to hazardous workplace conditions. For example, data from the OSHA Data Initiative is typically two to three years old. That simply does not provide a clear picture of current threats to workers. To correct this problem, OSHA just released a rule that will require certain employers to submit workplace injury and illness records electronically on a quarterly basis, ensuring OSHA will have timely and systematic access to occupational hazard data. When the rule is implemented, workers and other members of the public will be able to access the information through a searchable database on OSHA’s website.
This rule is a big deal – it will significantly change the way OSHA monitors and responds to workplace hazards. Here are six reasons to celebrate this new rule:
- The rule helps government work more efficiently. With the most up-to-date injury and illness records, OSHA can use its resources to identify and target the hazards putting workers at the greatest risk.
- With greater efficiency in tracking injuries, we can expect to see improved results in preventing injuries. Once OSHA is able to analyze the greatest risks facing U.S. workers, it can take action to prevent and eliminate those hazards. Workers will inevitably reap the benefit of safer workplaces over time.
- Workers and the public can make informed decisions based on the information available. The more information, the better. Having access to injury and illness data on OSHA’s website will enable potential employees to make careful decisions about where to work. Likewise, customers and other members of the public can use this information to evaluate companies before doing business with them.
By Michell K. McIntyre
Each year, Congress and the White House must pass a series of appropriations bills – spending bills – that fund our government for the year ahead. If they fail to do so before the current year’s funding expires, the government shuts down until funding is restored.
The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate each have their own appropriations committees, made up of 12 subcommittees, whose job is to draft spending bills that fund different parts of the government. The danger is that harmful poison pill riders may be attached to any or all of these bills.
Here are ten reasons why ideological riders don’t belong in appropriations legislation.
1. The budget process is not the place to shove unpopular and damaging legislation down the throats of the unwitting public. Examples: Restrictions to women’s reproductive health and the application of broad religious refusal language that would allow employers, insurers and health care providers to deny others access to health services are unpopular and controversial.
Meet Mr. Ticker. He’s the hypothetical rogue banker described in Washington’s newly proposed rule to reform Wall Street pay.
Six federal agencies charged with overseeing Wall Street — from credit unions to mega-banks — are proposing rules to implement Section 956 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This section charges them to write rules that prevent “excessive” pay packages that lead to “inappropriate risk-taking.”
The proposed rule spans 280 pages, most of which consists of explanation of the rule. The actual rule is about 20 of these pages. In an effort to communicate in “plain English,” the agencies describe hypothetical bankers Ms. Ledger (who’s honest) and Mr. Ticker (who’s not).
In the inevitably prudish lexicon of the banking agencies, “Mr. Ticker is a significant risk-taker who is the senior manager of a trader and a trading desk that engaged in inappropriate risk-taking in calendar year 2021, which was discovered on March 1, 2024. The activity of the trader, and several other members of the same trading desk, resulted in an enforcement proceeding against ABC and the imposition of a significant fine.”
Restated, Mr. Ticker and his team manipulated markets, and successfully hid it from the board for three years.
By Michell K. McIntyre
In the last year of the Obama administration many important worker protections are finally emerging – a stronger health standard for exposure to silica dust that will prevent more than 600 deaths from an agonizing disease, a fiduciary rule that makes financial advisors act in the best interest of their clients (shouldn’t they already be doing this?) and a soon-to-be released updated overtime pay safeguard that means millions of hardworking Americans will get a raise.
Worker advocates, economists, and unions have been working with the administration and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for years to make this change a reality. The expected rule will modernize and restore the protections of overtime pay that will result in millions of salaried employees being paid for the work they do beyond the standard 40 hours per week.
The middle class is working longer and harder than ever while corporate profits are skyrocketing, yet incomes remain stagnant. It’s not just political rhetoric that over the last 40 years the rules of the game have become rigged in favor of big business and the 1 percent.
Calling a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment is a catastrophic idea that is gaining an alarming amount of momentum.
A balanced budget amendment would force the government to prioritize an arbitrary bottom line over investing in public priorities and protecting civil liberties.
Instead of supporting the economy and strengthening social welfare, this shortsighted, austerity-on-steroids policy would prioritize federal debts over the American people. Such an apathetic policy would resemble the local government’s flawed priorization of paying off bank debts over providing safe drinking water for families in Flint, Michigan – but on a far larger, national scale.
Funding for vital public programs is already under constant attack in the annual budgeting process – as conservatives are constantly fighting to de-fund the programs and agencies advocating for consumers, working families, and the environment. By adding in the potential for massive yearly fluctuations in funding based on GDP, essential public programs would be even more at risk of losing funding in the pursuit of austerity measures.
Yet a constitutional convention on a balanced budget is scarily possible.