Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Department of Labor or Chao’s Department of Business Protection?

SALT LAKE CITY – Wayne Holland, chair of the Utah Democratic Party, said Tuesday that the tragedies at Crandall Canyon Mine are symptoms of an “anti-worker” bias at the U.S. Department of Labor that places profits above the health and safety of workers.

“The tragedy that killed nine workers at Crandall Canyon Mine was enabled by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao who, as a matter of principle, fostered a culture that has blocked tough safety regulations, taken shortcuts, approved half-measures, and punished dedicated public servants within the department,” said Holland, who will testify Wednesday before the House Committee on Education and Labor on issues related to the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the effect the tragedy has had on workers, families, and Emery County communities.

“Chao was a fundraiser and ideological warrior for Bush before her appointment,” said Holland, adding that nothing in Chao’s background prepared her for the life and death responsibilities of the job.

Holland said that one of the first employees Chao hired was Heritage Foundation scholar D. Mark Wilson, who had written a report titled “How to Close Down the Department of Labor” during Chao’s tenure at Heritage. Wilson became deputy assistant secretary in charge of workplace standards.

At a Washington event shortly after she became Labor Secretary, Chao said, “Often, people come into public service with a zeal to take immediate action. But, sometimes it’s not what you do but what you refrain from doing that is important.”

Holland said, “I am afraid that same lackadaisical approach Chao talked about seven years ago has become ingrained in the way the Labor Department does business. It could have indirectly contributed to the tragedy at Crandall Canyon Mine.

“Her appointment was a slap in the face of all American workers.”

Holland cited three examples:

Early in her tenure, Chao prematurely halted an investigation of a massive coal slurry spill, the largest-ever environmental disaster east of the Mississippi River. The company implicated in the spill donated $100,000 to Senate Republicans in 2002. It eventually was fined $2,000.

In 2001, Chao ordered an indefinite delay in the release of an annual Labor Department wage report that triggered raises for legal immigrant farm workers.

A January 2006 report by the Democratic staff of the House Education and Workforce Committee said that, under Chao, MSHA cut its coal-enforcement staff and weakened its oversight.

“If we have learned anything in the wake of Enron, toxic toys imported from China, tainted food and drugs, and now the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster, it has to be that government has a grave responsibility to hold business accountable. Elaine Chao and George W. Bush are not up to the task,” said Holland.


democrat said...

Why do taxes keep going up?

Govenor take from the rich to give to the poor "Hunts-men."

Republicans will just never get it when it comes to taxes.

Misty Fowler said...

"Elaine Chao and George W. Bush are not up to the task"

Amen! Now if we could just hold them responsible....