U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez faced tough questions from House appropriators on two ABC-opposed OSHA actions at an April 2 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee hearing.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) grilled Secretary Perez over OSHA’s letter of interpretation granting union representatives access to nonunion jobsites during OSHA safety inspections. Roby countered Perez’s claim that the letter in question did nothing to change agency policy, saying, “I want to know what your position is, as the Secretary of Labor, whether or not we can expect to see union representatives show up at a non-unionized business to walk along with your inspectors in a place where the employees have not designated that person as their representative, and I look forward to getting your answer in writing.”

ABC opposes the policy outlined in OSHA’s letter because it provides union officials with unsolicited access to nonunion work sites while doing nothing to promote workplace safety. ABC General Counsel Maury Baskin voiced these and other concerns at a recent House Workforce Protections Subcommittee hearing.

At the same hearing, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) pressed Secretary Perez on OSHA’s letter, and also questioned OSHA’s proposal to impose burdensome new standards for crystalline silica exposure on employers without first enforcing current exposure levels. Harris compared the benefits OSHA claims will flow from the proposal with data from the Center for Disease Control that showed a 93 percent drop in workplace silicosis rates over the last 40 years. 

ABC and the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) oppose OSHA’s silica proposal because compliance with the extreme standard would be technologically and economically infeasible, and have requested that OSHA withdraw its rule until it can put forth a standard that is necessary and workable for the construction industry.