September 10, 2001

The Honorable Robert E. Andrews
2439 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3001

ASSE STATEMENT ADDRESSING H.R. 2218
FAIRNESS FOR STATE AND LOCAL WORKERS ACT

Dear Representative Andrews:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is pleased to comment on your recently proposed legislation (H.R. 2218), which would amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to provide coverage for state employees and political subdivisions in the states. Since we already enjoy a relationship with you and your staff members from previous support of your bill, we will forego an introduction of ASSE and instead enclose a fact sheet on the Society for your review and reading interest. ASSE has made a conscientious decision to comment on all safety and health related legislation, particularly including your bill, since, as we know, it is important to support initiatives, which maintain the national focus in protecting life, property, and the environment.

The Society supports your bill H.R. 2218, as our position is that all Americans are entitled to work in a safe and healthful workplace regardless of whether they are public sector or private sector employees. In fact, it is ironic that after almost thirty (30) years since enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA Act), there are still a significant number of government employees, almost 20% of the American workforce, who are not afforded an equal level of protection.

Historically, the ASSE has questioned why federal employees were being given such protection and not all public sector employees, (e.g.: Senate Bill #650 Senator(s) Wellstone/Kennedy June, 1999). However, in this case we note that coverage is extended only to the states, but excludes federal employees. The bill should be amended to include all public sector employees, if such policies are going to be effective, since this course of action offers the best public policy. As a result, ASSE offers the following amendment to H.R. 2218 and Public Law 91-596 Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29USC, 652 [5]):

Definitions
Sec. 3(4) The term "employer" means a person engaged in a business affecting commerce who has employees including the employees of but does not all federal agencies, and entities of the United States government, all or any state or and political subdivisions of a state.

Sec. 3(6)
The term "employee" means an employee of an employer who is employed in a business of his employer, which affects commerce including those employees employed by federal agencies and entities of the United States government, state government agencies and entities and all political subdivisions of a state.

We thank you for your attention to this matter. More importantly, we offer our assistance in mounting a campaign to secure local grassroots support of your bill. To this end, let me suggest that I, or another Society officer, meet with you or our staff to exchange views on moving H.R. 2218 forward. If I may, I urge you to contact Tom Bresnahan, Deputy Executive Director, at 847/768-3402, to begin this process.

Sincerely yours,

M.E. "Eddie" Greer, CSP
Society President, 2001-2002

Copy To:

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SJG/CORRS1499
Encl ASSE Fact Sheet and Society Materials

 

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