Senator Mitch McConnell argued in 1987 that we should reject limits on corporate campaign contributions and instead, embrace public disclosure of campaign contributions important “so,” he said, “voters can judge for themselves what is appropriate.” He was right. Telling voters about the sources of political campaign contributions would help them understand about the influences on our elected representatives, and hopefully level the playing field between the powerful and the powerless in society.
But this week, McConnell is leading the fight against the DISCLOSE act that would plug legal loopholes that allow campaigns to keep their donors anonymous.
Some hotel guests may be getting a better night sleep these days, but at the expense of the housekeepers who clean their rooms. In what has been called an “amenities arms race,” many hotels now use luxury mattresses that weigh more than 100 pounds. Multiply those 100 pounds by the 16 to 25 beds the typical housekeeper must make up daily. Add to that the extra pillows to be fluffed, thick duvets and decorative bed skirts to be changed, without any reduction in the number of rooms each worker is required to clean. It’s not hard to see how this workload can lead to debilitating, often permanent, back, arm and shoulder, and rotator cuff injuries.
A recent fatal explosion at a Gallatin, Tennessee metals plant fueled by high concentrations of industrial dust highlights the need for action to protect American workers. Unfortunately, the workplace rules that would have prevented the tragedy still don’t exist .
“I can’t see what all this talk is about. How is it wrong for the State to intervene with regard to the working conditions of people who work in the factories and mills? I don’t see what they mean. What did we set up the government for?” (New York Senator Al Smith during debates regarding new health and safety legislation in the state, 1913)
The UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) co-publishes its eighth Research and Policy Brief, OSHA at 40: Looking Back, Looking Ahead, with the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program (LOSH). This brief reviews the accomplishments of OSHA over its 40-year history, highlighting the agency's important role in reducing workplace fatalities and protecting workers in a variety of industries from harm. In the current anti-government political climate, we make the case for robust government regulations backed by scientific evidence and effective enforcement.
By Peter Dreier and Donald Cohen. Published in the New Republic. March 12, 2011.
Americans tend to be fascinated by what’s new and to be indifferent to the past, except when they can use “tradition” to reinforce current prejudices and power arrangements. This has had an unfortunate effect on how we govern ourselves. We forget important lessons, and repeat old mistakes.
By Donald Cohen and Peter Dreier. Posted on Huffington Post. January 5, 2011.
Newly emboldened as chair of the House’s key investigative committee, California Cong. Darrell Issa, the conservative Republican, sent letters to more than 150 business lobby groups, asking them to identify government rules that they want eliminated.
Issa wants to hand the government over to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a who’s who of corporate America. The new Republican Congress is their opportunity to get rid of those pesky environmental laws, consumer product safety laws and even rules to prevent another Wall St. financial train wreck.
By David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz. Posted on Huffington Post. January 4, 2011.
On July 28, Alex Pacas, 19, and Wyatt Whitebread, 14, of Mount Carroll, IL were suffocated to death, sinking into several thousand tons of quicksand-like shelled corn in the grain bin where they were working. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) quickly determined that their deaths were preventable if Haasbach, LLC, the grain elevator's owner, had followed proper safety regulations.
By Peter Dreier and Jake Blumgart. Posted on Huffington Post. October 5, 2010.
Six months ago, on April 5th, 29 miners were killed by an immense explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. They didn't have to die. Mine owners, government officials, and union safety experts have known how to prevent such explosions for decades. Some operators take the necessary steps to prevent such occurrences, but others are willing to put short-term profits above worker safety.
An investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms what union and other workplace safety advocates have charged for years—the Bush administration’s reliance on voluntary policing by employers of their safety and health actions did not improve worker safety.