Sunday, April 10, 2005

America To Congress: Get Involved in Workplace Safety!

You have friends who think they have their finger on the pulse of the American people? Who think that Dems and labor are totally out of touch with real workers?

Ask them to guess which issue, above all others, the American people think Congress should be more active and directly involved, according to the latest Wall St. Journal-NBC News Poll (Question 10)?

Maybe "Issues of family illness and health, such as the Terri Schiavo case?" Nope. In fact that came in LAST, with only 22% thinking Congress should be more involved.

Or maybe the issue upon which the last election was allegedly decided -- Gay Marriage? Oooh, better luck next time -- a pathetic 34% think Congress should be more involved in Gay Marriage issues.

So what's the answer? What's the most important issue that Americans think Congress should be involved in? "Rules in the workplace that deal with health and safety issues," ringing in at 84%.

And following closely behind were "Environmental laws that involve restricting development to protect endangered species" at 80% and "Discrimination and affirmative action" at 76%.

You don't recall workplace safety, the environment or affirmative action being major issues in the last election? (Only in some peoples' fantasies) You don't recall workplace health and safety being pushed by any AFL-CIO presidents in current debates as an issue crucial to reviving the labor movement?


I can think of a few good questions for the next poll, if any of you have any friends or spouses who do polling. For example:

  1. What is a fair penalty for killing an employee in a workplace that they employer knew was hazardous?

    a) $70,000 (the current OSHA penalty for a "willful" violation
    b) $1 million
    c) $1 million and a 10-year jail term
    d) $3,000 if they promise not to do it again.

  2. When should workers have the right to refuse to do a job
    a) Pharmacists who don't believe in birth control should be able to refuse to dispense it to customers who have legitimate doctors' orders.
    b) Construction workers should be allowed to refuse to go into an unprotected trench that is much deeper than OSHA allows.
    c) Doctors should be able to refuse to treat trial attorneys or their families because they oppose medical malpractice "reform."
Check out the rest of the poll. Most of the American people agree with Democrats on most of the issues. Yet most of the people polled voted for George W. Bush.

What does this say about the issues that need to be stressed during elections? What does this say about politicians who try to portray themselves as Republican "lite?" And although it wasn't the main point of the poll, what does this say about good issues for unions to organize around?