Mike Dundon, Laborers’ Union, Paola Betchart, Worker Justice Center, Jeanette Zoeckler, Occupational Health Clinic

On March 20th, we had a meeting with two OSHA representatives – Laura Kenny, an Assistant to the Region II Director, and Chris Adams, the Syracuse Area Office Director. Laura was formerly the Labor Liaison for our Region.  Meeting with them were three staff from the Occupational Health Clinical Center, two staff from the Worker Justice Center, four staff and Board members of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a health and safety instructor and Business Representative from Painters’ District Council #4, a Business Representative from Laborers’ Local 785, a retired member of the Letter Carriers’ Union and two Board members from Midstate COSH.

 

Here are some of the issues that were raised:

Crispin Hernandez, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to force NY State to recognize the rights of farmworkers to organize and Rebecca Fuentes, Syracuse Workers Center
  • The Local Emphasis Program (LEP) on dairy farms; this is probably ending in October, but has been a significant success from our perspective. Chris reported that there were 11 investigations in 24 counties. Many of us felt a need to document the success of the LEP, which was initiated when farmworker advocates brought farmworkers to meet with OSHA officers in Syracuse.
  • There was quite a bit of discussion about a workplace violence standard. Laura is the workplace violence coordinator for Region II. There isn’t a standard but there are guidelines for healthcare, late night retail and social services, using the general duty clause. However, there is a high burden of proof.
  • The letter of interpretation to allow special representatives other than union reps to attend inspections has been revoked. This will take away informal worker representation which some of us have used to help workers who are not represented otherwise.
  • There was talk about the change of the OSHA website format. Laura spoke about it as what naturally happens when administrations change. Both Laura and Chris have been with OSHA through Democratic and Republican administrations.