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January 14, 2009

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American unions glad to see the back of Bush

Outgoing US president George Bush had a “daily, and sometimes deadly impact” on the health and safety of American workers during his time in office.

This is according to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) – a voluntary federation of 56 national and international trades unions, which has monitored the Bush administration’s record on jobs, health, safety and civil rights since 2001 (click here for Bush Watch).

In a review of Bush’s eight years in power Mike Hall, writing on the AFL-CIO website, said: “Whether it was via regulation, legislation, executive order, policy decision, or inaction, Bush repeatedly carried out the wishes of Big Business – less enforcement, weaker safety laws, lighter penalties, or no regulation at all.”

Among the ‘lowlights’ of the administration singled out by Hall are Bush’s overturning of an ergonomics safety standard that would have helped prevent “hundreds of thousands” of repetitive strain injuries; serial job cuts and underfunding of the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration; curtailing of workers’ rights to join unions; and blocking and delaying legislation on toxic substances, crane safety, and mine fires.

The union movement in the States hailed the election of Barack Obama – who will be sworn into office on 20 January – as a sign that the “political pendulum is swinging back towards sanity”. Said AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney (pictured): “Barack Obama brings new hope to America’s working families, and our increased majority in the Senate means we can translate that hope into reality.”


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