Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republicans Move to Overturn Clinton Workplace Injury Rules

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Republicans Move to Overturn Clinton Workplace Injury Rules

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Carolyn Shebora has worked as a cashier since 1972, ringing up groceries with pain and numbness in her wrists and arms. She worked in braces and finally resorted to surgery.

Labor unions are trotting out workers like Shebora to help fight an effort by Senate Republicans this week to overturn Clinton administration rules that protect against workplace injuries from repetitive motion.

"I had two sons I was raising and I just did what I had to do," said Shebora, who works at an Alexandria, Va., Safeway store. "I worked in braces until I could get surgery."

Eventually, changes at the store, such as organizing her cash drawer differently, helped ease the pain, but it was too late. "It's little changes like that. It didn't cost a whole lot of money," she said.

The Clinton administration issued the regulations, running more than 600 pages in the Federal Register, in mid-November. They took effect Jan. 16, four days before President Bush took office, although businesses have until October to comply with the first regulation -- distributing information to employees and starting to receive and respond to injury reports.

Republicans plan to use a little-known federal law to bring the issue to the Senate floor as early as Tuesday under rules that require a swift vote, according to lobbyists, union leaders and GOP officials.

A vote on the issue would mark the latest development in a decade- long struggle by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to regulate repetitive motion injuries.

Organized labor supports the new ergonomics rules, which could force companies to alter work stations, redesign facilities or change tools and equipment once employees are found to suffer work- related injuries.

"Ergonomic protections are now the law of the land and no one is going to take them away," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. "We will let our voices be heard loud and clear to let the Bush administration, the Congress and big business know that working families will not be outmaneuvered by this political power play."

Unions organized a protest this week outside a National Association of Manufacturers meeting that Vice President Dick Cheney addressed. …

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