Advances in workplace safety regulations and stricter labor standards for federal government contractors are under attack as lawmakers took to roll back recent pro-labor rules benefiting workers throughout the country, including UPS Teamsters.
Earlier this year, Congress moved to renege on an Obama administration rule that allowed for more timely collection of data in order to track workplace injuries and illnesses. This month, the Department of Labor followed up by delaying the implementation of that rule, which strengthened the Occupational Safety and Health Department’s (OSHA) ability to monitor and correct workplace safety hazards.
“By postponing OSHA’s ‘Injury Tracking’ regulation, the Department of Labor is making it more difficult for workers to hold companies accountable for dangerous working conditions, and that includes our members at UPS,” said Sean O’Brien, Director of the Teamsters Package Division.
Last year, OSHA added requirements to its recordkeeping regulations related to the electronic submission of injury and illness reports. It was meant to correct a widespread problem that saw many large employers routinely withhold these reports from their own workers in violation of agency rules.
These regulations are especially important at major employers like UPS, a company that claims employee safety is among its highest priorities. In March, a fire at a UPS warehouse in Hialeah, Fla. forced about 100 workers to evacuate the facility. Initial uncertainty about the cause of the fire underscores the importance of requiring OHSA reporting in order to get to the bottom of such accidents and prevent them in the future.
Sadly, this wasn’t the first regressive measure taken by lawmakers this year to undermine pro-worker policies. In March, Congress passed a resolution overturning the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order issued by President Obama in 2014 and instituted last year.
“Federal government contractors such as UPS receive taxpayer dollars to provide a service to the public. In exchange, they should be expected to follow labor laws in the workplace – and that’s what the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule did. By allowing employers who discriminate, commit wage theft or violate safety standards to contract with the federal government, it sends a message to other contractors that they can break the law in order to compete and outbid other companies,” O’Brien said.
The Teamsters Union remains engaged on these issues that affect members at UPS, publicly speaking out against rollbacks to OSHA rules and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order.
“We also have to recognize that where lawmakers fail to defend the basic rights of workers, we have to fight even harder at the bargaining table to protect our members when the laws don’t go far enough,” O’Brien added.