Punch: OSHA rejects industry pressure for entry of vaccine rules

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Under the OSHA gun | Thea Lee talks about the USMCA

Ben Penn: Occupational Safety and Health Administration is now on radio silence as it struggles to launch the president Joe bidenof the employer’s vaccination mandate, and company representatives feel like they are in a black box.

U.S. Department of Labor officials held outreach calls with business and worker groups after Biden announced the plan on September 9, but warned there would be no further sessions and no solicitation of public comments.

Since then, requests from unions and virtual meeting companies to share concerns and best practices have all been denied, according to interviews with eight sources.

The agency is under pressure to issue an emergency rule as soon as possible to respond to Biden’s call for companies with at least 100 employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or tested every week. Stakeholder meetings would risk delaying Biden’s goal.

Yet when industry lobbyists are told they cannot influence one of the most important and controversial regulatory interventions in recent memory, one would be naive to assume that this is the end.

Business groups are flooding the department with letters, and some warn that OSHA risks compliance issues by not accepting additional feedback from employers.

“This ETS is expected to be the most ambitious standard ever released by OSHA, and public input will be essential,” a coalition of business groups, led by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of manufacturers and the National Retail Federation said Friday in a letter to OHSA.

In addition, the NRF joined with the Retail Industry Leaders Association in asking OSHA for a 90-day compliance window.

The International Franchise Association, which bills itself as the only trade group representing franchise brands in fast food, hospitality and other industries, wrote to the administration earlier this month.

“Because we’re so unique, that’s why I’m so nervous,” said Suzanne Béall, group vice-president of government relations. “All I can do right now is hope that there will be interagency conversations with experts who understand franchising. “

OSHA did not indicate whether they were considering letters from business groups, and DOL media representatives did not comment when asked. But there is reason to believe that such letters can influence rule-making, at least on the margins.

President Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks on his administration’s response and vaccination schedule to Covid-19 at the White House on September 24.

Photographer: Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Several former ministry officials who participated in OSHA Regulatory Process said there would be nothing wrong with the agency considering written material as part of the rule, provided OSHA reviews anything that comes their way, without giving undue influence.

Businesses, especially large companies that already mandate vaccinations or offer on-site testing, say they could share valuable lessons to ease the burden of issuing a complex rule.

Industry powers frustrated by their lack of influence have one last resort: OSHA must send the standard to the White House Regulatory Guardian for final review. At this point, administration officials often meet with outside groups, which gives them one last chance to make their case. This could lead to last minute changes.

The expectation around town, however, is that the pressure to rapidly increase the country’s immunization rate through this mandate will force the White House to speed up the review, without any stakeholder meetings.

Ian Kullgren: DOL’s new Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs has a message for American workers: Mexico is not the enemy.

In an interview with Bloomberg Law last week, Thea Lee discussed how the agency’s Office of International Labor Affairs is helping the Mexican government implement landmark labor reforms under the US-Mexico-Canada deal by 2023.

The labor provisions of the North American Trade Agreement is an area where the Biden administration is not too far removed from its predecessor. Basically both think that strict labor clauses in trade agreements are essential to prevent American workers from being undermined by cheap foreign labor.

But while the former president Donald trump vilified Mexico— “Our jobs are fleeing the country. They are going to Mexico. They go to many other countries, ”he said during a debate in 2016 – Lee said it was a corporate greed issue.

“I never see it as ‘American and Mexican workers are fighting against each other,'” said Lee, a labor economist and former AFL-CIO official. “That’s how people like to say it. Like, “Oh, Mexican workers are stealing our jobs” … [but] Mexican workers are mistreated too, American workers are mistreated, and companies make a ton of money pitting us against each other. “

NAFTA opponents attend a press conference on the United States Capitol in June 2019, before the United States-Mexico-Canada deal is approved by Congress.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

This view was reflected in the first two USMCA “Rapid Response” Actions, a means of dealing with alleged violations of the pact. Both have been filed against US companies.

In each case, US officials alleged that General Motors Co. and a subsidiary of Cardone Industries, a Philadelphia-based auto company, had flouted the rights of Mexican workers and violated the USMCA in the process.

To avoid further sanctions, the companies each reached redress deals with the U.S. sales representative this summer, which included severance pay for workers at Tridonex, the Cardone subsidiary, and an employee vote on a union contract. at a GM plant in Silao, Mexico.

Workers at the GM plant rejected their existing contract in a vote last month and, on Tuesday, the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine tai lifted the sanctions against the establishment.

Lee also discussed a new program at the station labor attachés in American embassies abroad. There are three based in Mexico, and Lee said his office may hire two more by the end of the year. The agency then plans to create posts in Central America, Vietnam and possibly Bangladesh, she said.

“We have people on the ground 1 million percent of whom are focused on labor rights,” Lee said. “They have connections, they are talking.”

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