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UAW International Union on Sen. Levin's Risk Assessment Legislation -- S981

  Just received this email from Frank Mirer at the UAW 
  Health and Safety Department and I thought I'd share it with
  the list.  
  This letter was distributed to the United States Senate
  and concerns Sens. Carl Levin's & Fred Thompson's
  proposed "reg reform" bill, S. 981
  Please consider writing and calling Levin's office to oppose
  this legislation.
  >From: Frank Mirer <uawhs@earthlink.net>
  >Subject: Risk Assessment Legislation -- S981
  >Return-Path: uawhs@earthlink.net
  >Attached you will find the text of the UAW letter to the Senate regarding
  >the Thompson-Levin bill on regulatory "reform."  This was sent from the UAW
  >Washington Office.
  >        Franklin E. Mirer, PhD, CIH
  >        Director
  >        UAW Health and Safety Department
  >        8000 East Jefferson Ave
  >        Detroit, MI 48214
  >        ph  313-926-5563
  >        fx  313-824-4473
  >For more information about UAW check our website:
  Text of UAW International Union Letter to U.S. Senate follows:
  October 20, 1997
  Dear Senator:
  Senators Thompson (R-Tenn.) and Levin (D-Mich.) have introduced 
  legislation to overhaul the way the federal government establishes 
  job safety regulations and other important public protections.  The 
  Regulatory Improvement Act (S. 981), rather than improving what 
  is now a slow and inefficient regulatory process, would establish 
  a series of new bureaucratic and judicial hurdles that would 
  make it even more difficult to issue new job safety standards and 
  would weaken current protections for workers exposed to hazards 
  at their worksite.  We urge you not to cosponsor S. 981 and to 
  oppose the bill when the Senate begins consideration of this measure.
  The UAW opposes S. 981 for the following reasons:
  ÀÀ	S. 981 is a one sided approach  to the problems 
  of our public health regulatory system.  The legislation dramatically 
  tilts toward industry claims that public health protections are 
  overly restrictive, but fails to respond to worker concerns that 
  OSHA already takes much too long to respond to new evidence 
  of risks or petitions for action on behalf of thousands of 
  workers exposed to hazards.   The Thompson-Levin bill would add 
  years to the development and issuance of important job safety 
  standards by placing unnecessary and time-consuming requirements 
  on federal agencies.  It already takes these agencies about ten 
  years to work through the existing cumbersome process.  In the 
  last four years, for example, OSHA released new protections for 
  only two chemical substances.  One of these was a standard for 
  methylene chloride for which the UAW originally petitioned in l986.  Piling 
  on further analyses, reviews and tests will add unnecessary costs 
  without adding any value to the process.
  ÀÀ	The "peer review" panels established in S. 981 would 
  allow the participation of individuals with a direct conflict of 
  interest in the outcome, and who may be bound by trade secrecy 
  requirements which would allow decisions to be made on information 
  not available to workers exposed to the hazards.  The concept of 
  allowing individuals with a direct financial interest to critique the
  foundation for new safeguards, which they can later challenge in court, 
  is a distortion of the basic fairness that current law has long sought to 
  assure in the regulatory process.
  ÀÀ	S. 981 requires OSHA to put a proposed new protection 
  before a closed peer review committee, before the public could 
  comment on the rule and present new evidence.  Currently OSHA 
  must present its health or safety risk assessment and economic 
  analysis supporting a proposed standard in public hearings.  At 
  these hearings any interested party may comment, raise questions 
  and present new evidence on the record.   In contrast,  S. 981 would 
  impose multiple peer review steps which would shut down the 
  existing open, on the record, OSHA process.
  ÀÀ	S. 981 requires OSHA to establish an advisory committee, 
  dominated by business representatives.  In contrast, under current law 
  OSHA advisory committees must have an equal number of employer 
  and worker representatives exposed to hazards.  The legislation, under 
  an unacceptable "lookback process", authorizes the advisory committees 
  to undertake the crucial task of identifying existing rules for review 
  and potential elimination.  We believe this provision is an invitation 
  for hostile business interests, armed with a cadre of economic consultants 
  and lawyers, to jeopardize decades of successful standards and 
  divert resources from the development of new standards.
  ÀÀ	S. 981 also tilts the balance of OSHA decisions away from 
  protection.  For example, the present OSHA law prohibits cost benefit 
  analysis from being used as a justification for allowing higher 
  levels of chemical exposure or other hazards.  S. 981, however, would 
  mandate that agencies determine that the benefits of a regulation justify 
  the costs or explain why the determination cannot be made.  S. 981 
  would require OSHA to translate the various benefits of safeguards 
  into a dollars and cents total, putting pressures on the agency to 
  promulgate less protective rules.  The so-called "net benefits" test 
  in S. 981 would require OSHA to rely on economic assumptions to 
  generate precise dollar estimates for the benefit of regulations, 
  making cost considerations, not protection of safety and health, the 
  primary factor in setting standards.  Net benefit analysis is a dollar 
  for dollar balancing of the life and health of workers against costs to
  The UAW also submits that S. 981 is unnecessary because last year 
  Congress passed legislation making significant changes in the existing 
  regulatory process.  These laws should be given a chance to work 
  before imposing a series of broad new bureaucratic mandates.
  For all of these reasons, the UAW urges you to oppose the 
  Thompson-Levin regulatory process bill (S. 981).  Thank you for considering 
  the UAW's views on this extremely important subject.
  Alan Reuther
  Director of Legislation
  Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
  Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
  PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
  (517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)