Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Democratic Presidential Debate Wrapup

The AFL-CIO Presidential Candidate debate was interesting and occasionally inspiring. Some candidates looked better than others. (Some looked much better than others), but on the whole, I'd take any of them over the current resident of the White House (although I'm leaning toward Bob Edwards who hosted the event.)

Rather upsetting to us Confined Space groupies was the almost complete and total absence of any mention of health and safety issues (beyond a few token words by Kucinich and Kerry).

I mean, OK, maybe I'm a member of that wierd workplace health and safety cult (and so are you or you wouldn't be reading this), but what was the first major piece of legislation signed by George W. Bush? Yes, repeal of the federal ergonomics standard.

Not that I would ever think of criticizing the powers-that-be at the AFL-CIO....and there were lots of important issues discussed (jobs, health care, labor rights, corporate corruption, pensions, etc), but for many of these issues you just got the predictable platitudes that didn't particulary challenge the candidates (I mean, who was going to oppose workers' right to organize?)

A discussion of some actual workplace issues -- health and safety, overtime, living on less than a living wage, etc -- would have not only revealed the candidates' real understanding of workers' lives, but might also have been educational for the non-union members that may have been watching.

And a discussion of Bush's ergonomics crimes might have reminded people of some of the early misdeads of this administration that continue to affect millions of workers every day.

So fellow groupies and cultists: Now is the time to start thinking about how to make workplace health and safety a campaign issue in the coming elections (That's elections -- plural.) Ideas are welcome. Talk among yourselves. Then e-mail me.