Regulations Protect Workers, Citizens

Abolishing regulations, as the Trump administration has promised to do, can cost citizens their lives, health and mobility.

Even before he took office, President Donald Trump pledged to reduce costs to corporations by cutting two rules for every new one. Too often, however, that results in injury to citizens.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America, for example, sued the administration yesterday over the Department of Transportation’s delay of a rule that would have required airlines to report damaged or lost wheelchairs as they already do with mishandled bags and late flights.

The veterans’ group said the information is crucial because “Having your only means of leaving the plane get lost or damaged is demoralizing.”

Just as important are regulations preventing unnecessary illness and death, and the administration has proposed revoking parts of a new rule limiting occupational exposure to deadly beryllium.

The administration’s intention to absolve shipyard and construction employers of the responsibility to measure beryllium levels and provide medical testing to workers at risk of fatal lung diseases would result each year in six additional workers developing Chronic Beryllium Disease and four of them dying.

The beryllium rule, proposed in the waning days of the Obama administration after decades of study, would reduce occupational exposure in industrial, shipyard and construction jobs. The administration wants to rescind the protections for workers in construction and shipyards.  About 62,000 workers are exposed to beryllium, including approximately 11,500 in construction and shipyards.

Reducing the protection for those workers would save corporations approximately $11.9 million a year.

It would, however, cost workers their lives. Chronic Beryllium Disease, for which there is no cure, occurs when beryllium dust or fumes are inhaled.

“The lives of working people in construction sites and in shipyards are on the line,” said Economic Policy Institute Director of Policy Heidi Shierholz. “$11 million dollars sounds like a lot of money until you think about the lives of four human beings and the effects of those illnesses and premature deaths on the people who love them.”

In considering which regulations to eliminate, the profits of corporations should not trump the lives, health or mobility of citizens.


Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work