On Nov. 13, 2023, ABC submitted comments urging the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its Worker Walkaround Representative Designation Process proposed rule, which would allow employees to choose a third-party representative, such as an outside union representative or community organizer, to accompany an OSHA inspector into nonunion facilities. Read ABC’s new release on the proposed rule.
The Biden administration is trying to revive a failed Obama-era initiative, which was bad policy then and is bad policy now. This power grab does nothing to promote workplace health and safety, and instead pushes the administration’s “all-of-government” agenda to encourage unions and collective bargaining.
It is especially concerning that the proposed rule fails to provide clarity in a number of key areas. There is no restriction on the number of different third-party representatives who may be present for a single inspection, nor on how many employees may request different representatives. Additionally, the rule fails to provide any safety expertise criteria for the selection of third-party representatives. It also gives no guidance on how OSHA or an inspector should approve these requests or what is “reasonably necessary”
On Sept. 26, ABC joined 40 other Coalition for Workplace Safety members in sending a letter to the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Committee’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, calling out OSHA for its proposed rule and the politicization of the agency that the rulemaking exemplifies. Read CWS’s press release.
On Feb. 21, 2013, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation endorsing union representatives and other nonemployee third parties accompanying OSHA inspectors on walkaround inspections at nonunion workplaces, which ABC adamantly opposed, expressing serious concerns. OSHA eventually rescinded the letter of interpretation on April 25, 2017.
ABC urges the DOL to withdraw the proposed rule. ABC is deeply disappointed and concerned that the Biden administration is moving forward with a failed Obama-era initiative, which does nothing to promote workplace safety and will have a substantial negative impact on the rights of employers and their employees.
By allowing outside union agents access to nonunion employers’ private property, OSHA is injecting itself into labor-management disputes and casting doubt on its status as a neutral enforcer of the law. Not only does the proposed rule negatively impact the rights of employers, but it also ignores the rights of the majority of employees who have not authorized any union to represent them. Likewise, by allowing a nonmajority community organizer to participate in a walkaround, the proposal could distract the OSHA safety inspector from their primary purpose of workplace safety.
OSHA can have a bigger impact on jobsite safety by fostering positive partnerships with employers and promoting safety practices that produce results.