Jan 152015
 

Child farmworkers are exempted from many federal labor laws that regulate the employment of children in nearly all other industries. Other 12-year olds are not permitted to work more than 3 hours on a school day but children who work on farms can work unlimited hours before and after school. There are more than 300,000 children working for a living in our agriculture industry. Many of these children are members of families which need help providing for them. More children are injured and killed while working on farms than any other job. Each year, about 100,000 children are injured and more than 100 die while working with dangerous farm tools and heavy equipment. Some of these children work from 10 to 12 hours in sweltering heat, without plentiful water or restrooms. They are also exposed to large doses of pesticides that may cause cancer or damage their reproductive and nervous systems. Nearly half of these children are never able to finish high school. Child advocates claim this exploitation will continue as long as these conditions are legal.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current child farmworkers labor policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to extend federal labor law protections to child farmworkers

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), including carpal tunnel syndrome, account for more than one third of all America’s sick days. These injuries can be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression or sustained or awkward positions. WMSDs force more than a million American workers, many of them women, to take time off from work each year. Women make up about half our workforce but account for two-thirds of all repetitive-motion injuries. Including workers compensation claims, the total cost to our economy from these types of injuries is about $50 billion each year. Ergonomics is the science of designing workplace equipment which maximizes productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. In 2000, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formulated a set of ergonomics standards to prevent WMSDs. However Congress, using an obscure law called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), overturned OSHA’s rules soon after they were proposed because it feared these rules would be too costly to implement. The CRA allows Congress to review and override new federal regulations issued by government agencies. The only time CRA has ever been used was when Congress dismissed OSHA’s ergonomic standards. Since this dismissal, it is estimated at least 13 million Americans have sustained WMSD injuries, costing our economy more than half a trillion dollars. Opponents of ergonomics standards claim the implementation of these rules could cost businesses billions to meet its requirements. Supporters say WMSDs are already costing us $50 billion each year. They say this one-time cost to employers is preferable to a million people being injured each year.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current ergonomic standard policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to implement the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 2000 ergonomics standards

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Many consumer products including clothes, shoes, appliances, electronics and toys are made in Asian and Central American factories. Workers in these factories are often subjected to low pay, long hours, abusive supervisors, and poorly lighted or ventilated workplaces. In 2013, an eight story building collapsed in Bangladesh killing 1,127 garment workers. Several factories housed in this unsafe building sold apparel to many of the largest Western clothing retailers. Soon after this disaster, the European Union threatened to limit Bangladesh’s duty-free trade access if garment companies didn’t help make factories safer. At least 69 European retailers then signed a legally-binding agreement to improve factory safety conditions. The “Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh” provides for independent safety inspections along with help financing fire-safety and building improvements in these garment factories. Nearly all American garment companies have refused to sign this accord because they would not agree to the use of binding arbitration to resolve disputes.

Advocates say sweatshops are just as prevalent here as they are in foreign countries, producing many of the shirts, dresses, blouses and skirts sold on the racks of big American clothing retailers. A Labor Department survey of state-registered cutting and sewing shops in New York and Los Angeles found that nearly two-thirds of these operations don’t pay their workers minimum wages or overtime. This ratio would have undoubtedly been much higher if the survey included the hundreds or thousands of fly-by-night operations that don’t bother to register with a state. Advocates claim it is not uncommon for the employees of American garment manufacturers to be crowded together in small rooms with few facilities, being irregularly paid a mere dollar or two per hour. Most of these workers don’t complain to authorities because English is not their native language and because they fear being deported. Advocates say there is not enough inspectors to police this industry.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current sweatshop policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to hire additional inspectors to police the American garment manufacturing industry

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to limit Bangladesh’s duty-free trade access unless American garment firms sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

 Posted by at 12:00 am