Jordan Barab blasts downsizing at the AFL-CIO:
AFL-CIO staff wore black to work today, and for good reason. Coming only a few days after Workers Memorial Day, 169 positions were eliminated, including half of the four-person Health and Safety Department’s professional staff. Deborah Weinstock and Rob McGarrah have been given notice that their positions will no longer be funded, although it is unclear when these changes will take place. What’s left of the department will be merged into the newly-created Government Affairs Department. 52 new positions will be created at the federation.
This is a sad day for workers, for the labor movement and for all those who care about the health, safety and working conditions of American workers. Workers in this country are faced with going to work every day knowing that the government agency mandated to watch over their lives in the workplace is becoming increasingly irrelevant, the tort system (the ability of people to sue corporations that harm them) is under fierce attack, the advocates of reducing compensation for injured workers are winning in state after state, chemicals continue to pour into the workplaces that destroy workers’ health with no government agency able to do anything about it, an asbestos compensation bill that promises to ensure that thousands of workers with asbestos disease don’t get compensated is moving through the Senate, “new” issues like ergonomics, longer working hours, speed-ups, stress, work organization changes are being ignored — and the only voice standing up to this mess — or even recognizing that all is not well for the health and safety of American workers — is being dismantled by its own family. And as I asked before, how can working people and individual unions working alone be any match for the well funded combined power of the Chamber of Commerce, NAM, NFIB and individual industry associations who have the ability to hire high-priced attorneys, scientists – and legislators? Indeed, champagne corks must be popping in corporate suites all across America.