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Labor and Politics

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Yesterday the House of Representatives stripped a rider on an appropriations bill that would stop OSHA from setting guidelines or collecting data on hundreds of thousands of repetitive stress related injuries that occur in the workplace each year. While labor has won that victory, it’s not breathing a sigh of relief just yet-–because the two Texas republicans who introduced it, Henry Bonilla and Tom Delay—Delay owned a pesticide company before becoming a congressmember—vow that they will force its reconsideration. Joining us to talk about what is called the ergo rider and other bills affecting labor Congress dealt with this week are two people, Peg Seminario is head of Occupational Safety and Health at the AFL- CIO in Washington Greg Tarpininian is with Labor Research Associates here in NY Peg, Seminario, first why is it called the ergo rider and what’s happened in the last 24 hours? What about the recent Supreme Court decision in Virginia on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Greg Tarpinian, this week saw sevral critical victories for workers and the labor movement in what has been billed as the most anti- worker Congress in history. Congress passed a 90 cent increase in the minimum wage, voted down a so-called national right to work law and passed by a much closer margin than expected, the TEAM Act (which would have allowed a return to the kind of employer dominated company union that has been banned by national labor law since 1935. President Clinton vows to veto it. Can you tell us briefly about the significance of these bills?

Today we are broadcasting out of New York, where it looks like the state legislature has finally agreed on a budget and is expected to vote on it today. It’s the latest budget in state history, despite the fact that the Republican governor, George Pataki, had attacked the former Governor Mario Cuomo continually during the campaign for late budgets. One of the major obstacles to the budget was the battle over worker compensation, an conflict that has been battled out in states around the country. We are joined by three people to debate the issue.

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