Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Little House Keeping - Coverage of Public Employees

Wow, 11 comments, people are actually read this? If I'm not careful this may become like work, yikes. I want to first point out that my original post dealt with Federal OSHA inspecting state/county/municipal workers, not having the states do it, that's a slightly different argument.

Having said that, please, read the comments, they are very good, thoughtful comments. Michael Wood (the administrator of Oregon OSHA) correctly pointed out that we do have in place a mechanism for coverage of public employees in state-plan-states (SPS). A few other people pointed out that we have states like NY, NJ, CT and soon IL which have chosen to have SPS-like coverage of public employees, although no one mentioned the Virgin Islands, which also has public sector coverage. These programs are monitored by OSHA pretty much like any SPS.

So, lets count it up, we have 54 "states" (50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Puerto Rico). There are 22 SPS and 4 states with public sector coverage. This leaves us with 28 states (soon to be 27) with public sector employees not covered by an OSHA monitored program (thanks to the anonymous commenter who gave us the list of those states). It's important to note that some of these states do inspect some aspects of public employee S&H, but it's hit and miss and not monitored.

Keeping in mind that the 4(5) SPS-like programs all came to OSHA asking to be part of the program, we didn't approach them, the question now becomes, can we get those unprotected employees covered under OSHA regulations by state enforcement, and if so how?

My contention is that we will never see universal public sector coverage for the very reason I mentioned in the original post: there " the lack of political will to make it happen. No state, county, or municipal government is going to willingly let the federal government tell it what to do with its own people. Keep in mind the members of Congress are part of their state's political machinery and they listen to the local politicians." That road block hasn't changed, regardless of who does the enforcement.

If anyone has any ideas on how we can get over, under, around or through this road block, let us all know and maybe we can start a movement. I certainly believe that the city worker in Canton, Ohio deserves the same protections as the steel workers in Dallas, or the health care worker in Boston.

1 comment:

  1. Or more relevant, the city worker in Canton, OH digging a trench deserves the same protection as the private sector worker across the street also digging a trench.