Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trump Attacks the Working Class

There is a hierarchy to oppression under capitalism. It begins with the most vulnerable then works upward.

The Trump administration's 21% budget cut or $2.5 billion to the Department of Labor's would devastate worker safety, job training programs and legal services essential to low-income workers. The budget would reduce funding for or eliminate programs that provide job training to low-income workers, unemployed seniors, disadvantaged youth and for state-based job training grants. It eliminates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) training grants as well as the independent Chemical Safety Board. Also targeted for elimination is the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal assistance to low-income Americans.

Judy Conti, National Employment Law Project (NELP) federal advocacy coordinator, didn't mince words. "This budget will mean more illness, injury and death on the job."

The budget would close Job Corps centers that serve "disadvantaged youth," eliminate the Senior Community Service Employment Program, decrease federal funding for state and local job training grants—shifting more financial responsibility to employers and state and local governments. The budget would also eliminate certain grants to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, which helps people with disabilities stay in the job market.

Also slated for elimination are OSHA's Susan Harwood training grants that have provided more than 2.1 million workers, especially underserved and low-literacy workers in high-hazard industries, with health and safety training since 1978. These trainings are designed to multiply their effects by "training trainers" so that both workers and employers learn how to prevent and respond to workplace hazards. They've trained healthcare workers on pandemic hazards, helped construction workers avoid devastating accidents, and workers in food processing and landscaping prevent ergonomic injuries. The program also helps workers for whom English is not their first language obtain essential safety training.
"The cuts to OSHA training grants will hurt workers and small employers," said David Michaels, former assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. "Training is a proven, and in fact necessary method to prevent worker injuries and illnesses. OSHA's training grants are very cost effective, reaching large numbers of workers and small employers who would otherwise not be trained in injury and illness prevention." 

"Everyone, labor and management, believes that a workforce educated in safety and health is essential to saving lives and preventing occupational disease. That is the purpose of the Harwood grants," said Michael Wright, director of health, safety and environment at United Steelworkers.

Eliminating the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) would mean no independent federal agency dedicated to investing devastating industrial accidents such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the West Fertilizer plant explosion, Freedom Industries chemical release in Charleston, West Virginia, and the Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, California. Those are among the hundreds of cases CSB has investigated over the past 20 years or so.

"Our recommendations have resulted in banned natural gas blows in Connecticut, an improved fire code in New York City, and increased public safety at oil and gas sites across the State of Mississippi. The CSB has been able to accomplish all of this with a small and limited budget. The American public are safer today as a result of the work of the dedicated and professional staff of the CSB," said CSB chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland in a statement.
"The cost of even one such accident would be more than the CSB's budget over its entire history. And that calculation is only economic. The human cost of a catastrophic accident would be enormous," said Wright. "The CSB's work has saved the lives of workers in chemical plants and oil refineries, residents who could be caught in a toxic cloud, even students in high school chemistry labs."

Capitalism doesn’t give a damn about workers. It constantly attack worker’s rights. From essentially making it impossible to unionize to eliminating or cutting funding for worker safety, both parties of the duopoly have completely acceded to the corrupt demands of capital. Republicans are simply more overt about it. Democrats have long ago abandoned working people, despite the still-held belief of many, including union leadership, that they are the party of workers.

We can continue to fight rear-guard actions to try and maintain the few governmental benefits available to us or we can take a more revolutionary comprehensive approach and fight the hold capital has over us. If we don’t take to the streets and our workplaces to fight for a better life for our families and our communities we will simply remain hostage to politicians who will do nothing for us. We have to fight back and fight for socialism.

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