We write to urge you to ask your Congressional Representatives to become a co-sponsor of important legislation meant to stop the Bush Administration from further eroding worker protection. H.R. 6660 was introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to stop an eleventh-hour proposed rule that would make it harder to set new safety regulations limiting workers' exposure to chemicals on the job.
As reported in the Washington Post, the Labor Department began actively drafting new rules for measuring risk and setting health standards for chemicals in September 2007, but did not disclose it was looking at the idea, as required, in either its December 2007 or May 2008 reports on regulations it was considering. The proposal calls for adding another procedural step and round of challenges before the department can consider regulations for a workplace toxin. It also challenges the agency's longstanding assumption that it should set limits low enough to protect workers who could be exposed to a toxin every day on the job and work for 45 years.
In seven and a half years, the Bush administration has adopted only one regulation to limit exposure to a chemical--hexavalent chromium--and that was under court order. This proposed new rule has become the department's top priority in the final months of the Bush Administration, although proposed worker safety rules for limiting exposure to beryllium, silica and combustible dust remain works in progress despite years of being under consideration.
The AFL-CIO has instituted a campaign to prevent the adoption of this rule. The chairmen of the Senate and House labor committees have written to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao demanding that the Department withdraw the proposal.
Please find enclosed a draft letter you can use to ask your Congressional Representative to become a co-sponsor of the legislation.
Stopping the implementation of this rule is urgent. Failure to do so will mean that it will be almost impossible for needed new safety and health standards to be issued. Please write your Congress Member today.
Bill Henning Joel Shufro
Chairman Executive Director
NYCOSH Board of Directors
Vice President, Local 1180
Communications Workers of America
P.S. In addition to the draft letter, please find attached a copy of the legislation, a list of current co-sponsors, a fact sheet prepared by the AFL-CIO about the legislation, an AFL-CIO resolution opposing the legislation, and a story about the bill from OMB Watch.