Sending Office: Honorable Mark Pocan
Every American deserves to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, and deserves to come home at the end of a workday.
That’s why I’ve introduced two amendments to restore funding to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD).
My first amendment simply restores $10 million to WHD to ensure their enforcement of wage theft and employee misclassification isn’t disrupted.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the Nation’s workforce. Wage and Hour enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Enforcing these bedrock labor laws is critical for our nation’s most vulnerable workers. The Wage and Hour Division, which is responsible for enforcing violations of wage theft, employed roughly the same number of investigators as it did nearly 70 years
ago: WHD employed 1,000 investigators in 1948 and fewer than 1,000 in 2015
Wage theft is a serious issue, with the issue taking place at small farms and businesses, as well as at major corporations like Chipotle, which was accused by nearly 10,000 employees of holding back wages. According to the Economic Policy Institute, in the
10 most populous states, 2.4 million workers lose $8 billion dollars annually to minimum wage violations. This amounts to around $3,300 per worker. This is gas in the tank, food on the table, childcare for kids, and so much more.
Wage theft has a disproportionate income on low wage workers—with 17% of those affected working in low wage jobs. Not only are these workers held down by a low minimum wage, they are then robbed from when an employer steals their wages.
For too long, the rules of our economy have been written by those who want to rig the system. Despite campaigning on supporting the American worker, President Trump is now working with Republicans to give more power to the wealthy and corporations, all at
the expense of the hardworking men and women of our country.
My second amendment would simply restore $21 million in funding to OSHA to protect workers. Both amendments would simply maintain flat funding for the agencies.
With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and
by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
Over 4,800 workers are today killed on the job- and almost 3 million more are seriously hurt. These injuries cost the economy over $198 billion – according to the National Safety Council. OSHA has made an incredible difference in saving lives and preventing
injuries and making sure we put safety first on the job. Since the agency was created in 1971 the number of on the job deaths and injuries is down over 66% with twice as many workers in the economy. But OSHA’s resources today—before the cuts – are woefully
inadequate to protect American workers.
At current staffing levels it would take Federal OSHA over 159 years to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction just once. The number of Federal OSHA investigators is lower now that it was during the Reagan Administration – and lower than in 2009.
OSHA covers 9.5 million workplaces.
Cutting this already underfunded agency even further would mean the agency would be seriously hampered it its ability to ensure safe working conditions. This is bad for workers and for industry. Because safety pays—studies have shown that when OSHA cites
a company for a serious safety hazard, and the company corrects the violation—injuries go down and the companies save money: billions nationally, according to a study by Harvard and University of California-Berkeley.
These amendments simply maintain flat funding for OSHA and WHD by restoring $21 million and $10 million, respectively, to each account. I urge you to stand up for workers and support this amendment.
Member of Congress
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