AFL-CIO report points to worker neglect from DC

Stephon Johnson | 10/15/2020, midnight
The AFL-CIO released a report this week chronicling how much they think workers have suffered under President Donald Trump.
AFL-CIO photo

The AFL-CIO released a report this week chronicling how much they think workers have suffered under President Donald Trump.

“Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” presents data showing how the current administration’s failure to act in the past has been a main contributor to the gravity of the current public health crisis.

During a video press conference, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka blamed the health crisis on Trump and his administration’s weakening and rollbacks of regulations on top of his resource cuts to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“This report shows the tremendous neglect by the Trump administration, since day one in office, to ensure that working people are safe on the job,” said Trumka. “For nearly four years, President Trump has downplayed the role of safety agencies tasked with protecting workers and let corporate profit, rather than science, influence the protections we need to keep us safe from this disastrous pandemic. Now hardworking families are paying the price. We all deserve the best protections available. It is time to change course. Our lives and the future of the country depend on it.”

The year 2018 saw an increase in the number of Latino workers dying on the job. While the fatality rates among Latino workers stay the same at 3.7 per 100,000 workers, it’s still greater than the overall job fatality rate at 3.5 per 100,000. However, 67% of Latino workers who died were immigrant workers. That same year, 615 Black workers died on the job, an increase from 530 deaths in 2017 and a 46% increase in the past decade. The death rate for Black workers increased in 2018 to 3.6 per 100,000 workers from 3.2 per 100,000 in 2017. The number represents the first time in five years that Black death rates per 100,000 were higher than the overall fatality rate.

In July, Trump, joined by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought, Small Business Administrator Jovita Carranza and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, announced further rollbacks of regulations on the grounds that it would free businesses and spark economic growth.

“For every one new regulation issued, we pledged that two federal regulations would be permanently removed,” said Trump. “We not only met that ambitious goal—which, at the time, people said was impossible—we vastly exceeded it. For every one new regulation added, nearly eight federal regulations have been terminated. Been an incredible achievement.”

Last week, President Donald Trump told U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to end all negotiations over a revised Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act despite Democrats and Republicans finally agreeing on the framework for the bill. Before that news broke, Trumka called for McConnell to pass the HEROES Act, which would include national workplace safety standards during the pandemic.

“The data shows how ill-prepared the country was for the pandemic,” said Trumka. “This was a crisis in the making. There were warning signs everywhere, yet the Trump administration decided to ignore them and put everyone in harm’s way.

“And while every day thousands of workers continue to be infected with COVID-19, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell keeps playing politics instead of taking action to prevent these tragedies.”