Many think President Obama has done right by American workers, but the truth is that he has a poor track record in protecting American workers, reported Salon. Labor unions used to protect workers, but anti-union corporatists forced the government to weaken them over the years, which weakened worker protections.
Every year, thousands of workers suffer from workplace hazards involving accidents and dangerous chemicals like benzene, glyphosate, and hexavalent chromium, while receiving little protection from and treatment after accident and chemical exposure.
The Obama administration has a poor track record when it comes to protecting workers, just as bad as the George W. Bush administration, says Jim Morrison of the Center for Public Integrity. The U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) rules on workplace safety are grossly outdated. Of the 84,000 OSHA-listed chemicals that workers can be exposed, OSHA has limits on only 470. The Obama administration has only issued one worker health rule, which was the first in the last 25 years. Morrison noted that OSHA was really effective in the late 1970s under the Carter administration, when labor unions still thrived.
“It was a time when unions were very strong, there were unions like the steelworkers and the autoworkers, oil, chemical and atomic workers — which is not part of the steel workers — that had a lot of aggressive, bright folks working on health,” said Morrison. “Unions were a lot more influential back then. That late ’70s period was as close as that agency has come to really doing what it’s supposed to be doing.”
Unions and OSHA worked together decades ago to protect American workers. The system wasn’t completely perfect, but it was vastly more effective under Carter than under Obama. Union influence has also taken a nosedive since then, as corporations and Wall Street representatives have influenced government action against the unions. A weak president, years of union busting, and corporate influence created an anti-worker system similar to that of third world countries. Obama’s “advocacy” for American workers is little more than big talk at best.