Metavid

Video archive of the US Congress

Senate Proceeding on May 3rd, 2011 :: 0:49:45 to 1:02:25
Total video length: 2 hours 33 minutes Stream Tools: Stream Overview | Edit Time

Note: MetaVid video transcripts may contain inaccuracies, help us build a more perfect archive

Download OptionsEmbed Video

Views:61 Duration: 0:12:40 Discussion

Previous speech: Next speech:

Tom Harkin

0:49:45 to 1:02:25( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Tom Harkin

Tom Harkin

0:49:48 to 0:50:08( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the mr. harkin: madam president? senator from iowa. mr. harkin: madam president, i just want to join with my good friend, the senator from ohio, senator brown, in commemorating the workers memorial day which actually was last week. but since we weren't in session, we wanted to take the time today

Tom Harkin

0:50:09 to 0:50:31( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: to commemorate the workers memorial day. and i -- i'm always greatly appreciative of my friends wearing canery pin on his lapel. my father was a coal miner for over 20 years. a lot of people still don't know that we had coal mines in iowa.

Tom Harkin

0:50:32 to 0:50:54( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: at one time iowa was the third largest coal producing state in the nation. my father worked over 20 years in the coal mines a long time before there were any safety laws or anything like that. most of the time he worked in those mines was even before i was born. but -- but i can remember later on him telling stories about the mines and how many people would get injured and killed and --

Tom Harkin

0:50:55 to 0:51:16( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: and it was just sort of an accepted thing that every day, every week, month people would just die and cave-ins would happen. of course almost everyone in his generation that worked in those coal mines eventually got miner's cough, as they called it then, we know it as black lung disease now. almost virtually all of them had

Tom Harkin

0:51:17 to 0:51:37( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: that later on in their lives. so i just want to appreciate my friend from ohio in commemorating workers memorial day. madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that blake tyse, emily taylor be granted floor privileges for the duration of today's proceedings. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: madam president,

Tom Harkin

0:51:38 to 0:52:00( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: more than 20 years ago family members of workers killed on the job joined with safety advocates to launch workers memorial day, a day of remembrance and advocacy to honor the safety and health administration, osha. april 28 was chosen as workers memorial day. this year that day took on special significance because it marked the 40th anniversary of

Tom Harkin

0:52:01 to 0:52:22( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: the creation of the occupational safety and health administration. the passage of the occupational safety and health act -- safety act which created osha was one of the monumental legislative achievements of the 20th century. it reflects the values that all americans share that workers shouldn't have to risk their lives to earn their lively hood.

Tom Harkin

0:52:23 to 0:52:44( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: that workers, employers, and the government must all work together to keep people safe and healthy on the job. signed in law by president nixon this bipartisan legislation has been a tremendous success in saving the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of american workers. here's the facts: immediately

Tom Harkin

0:52:45 to 0:53:06( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: prior to the creation of osha in 1970, an average of 14,000 workers died annually from occupational injuries. in 2009, despite a workforce that is twice as large as the workforce in 1970, 4,340 workers were killed on the job.

Tom Harkin

0:53:07 to 0:53:27( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: before osha, about 11 workers were killed for every 100,000 people working. now roughly 3.3 workers are killed per 100,000 people working. now, again, these figures are still too large and we absolutely can and should do much better. but we should take a moment to

Tom Harkin

0:53:28 to 0:53:48( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: reflect on how many tragedies have been prevented and how many lives have been saved because of osha. i fear that this simple truth that workplace safety regulations has been a phenomenal success is being ignored in washington these days. nowadays some people would have us believe that workplace safety regulation is something bad.

Tom Harkin

0:53:49 to 0:54:09( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: they claim that osha standards are -- quote -- "job killers." but just because some special interest groups with highly paid lobbyists keep repeating this absurd upon tra, that -- montra, that doesn't mean it's true. in fact, just the opposite is true. smart regulations, smart safety

Tom Harkin

0:54:10 to 0:54:31( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: regulations administered by active unbias regulators improve an stablize our economy. they save workers' lives, prevent catastrophic accidents, reduce health care costs, and ensure that industries are responsible for their actions instead of just dumping the cost of their mistakes on workers and taxpayers.

Tom Harkin

0:54:32 to 0:54:53( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: in addition to the more than 4 workers killed on the job every year, which i just mentioned, almost 50,000 americans die every year from occupational illnesses. let me repeat that. almost 50,000 americans die every year from occupational illnesses. and more than 4.1 million

Tom Harkin

0:54:54 to 0:55:14( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: workers are injured every year. the cost of these injuries an illnesses is -- and illnesses is enormous. estimated at somewhere between 160 billion to 318 billion a year for the direct and the indirect cost of disabling injuries. additional safeguards to prevent these injuries an illnesses,

Tom Harkin

0:55:15 to 0:55:36( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: along with stronger enforcement of existing laws, would save thousands of lives, save thousands of injuries from happening and save the taxpayers billions of dollars. to accomplish this, it's clear that our safety laws need to be updated. they need to be updated. we've learned much in the 40 years since the occupational safety and health act was passed

Tom Harkin

0:55:37 to 0:55:57( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: and it's past time to use this knowledge for meaningful reform. for example, we know that whistle-blowers -- whistle-blowers are critical to bringing safety problems to light. but these whistle-blowers won't come forward unless the law contains stronger protections

Tom Harkin

0:55:58 to 0:56:19( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: against retaliation. right now we have stronger protections for financial whistle-blowers under the sarbanes-oxley law than we do for workers blowing the whistle trying to save lives. let me repeat that.

Tom Harkin

0:56:20 to 0:56:43( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: we have stronger whistle-blower protections for financial whistle-blowers under existing sarbanes-oxley financial reform law than we do for workers who are trying to save lives by blowing the whistle. that's not right. that should be corrected. we also know that while most responsible companies make worker safety a top priority,

Tom Harkin

0:56:44 to 0:57:08( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: there are some unscrupulous employers who cut corners on safety to save costs. unfortunately, as a past health education labor and pension committee report demonstrated, when the negligence of these companies results in workers being killed on the job, these irresponsible companies walk away with just a slap on the wrist.

Tom Harkin

0:57:09 to 0:57:31( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: osha penalties are pitfully low. the average fine for a worker being killed on the job is just $5,000. let me repeat that. the average fine for irresponsible company, they have to be found that they were not acting prudently, that they were skipping on their safety regulations, they were not

Tom Harkin

0:57:32 to 0:57:53( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: adhering to well-defined safety regulations, someone gets killed, the average fine, $5,000. $5,000. well, what we need is real penalties to ensure that all employers have real incentives to comply with safety and health laws. these and other changes in the law are desperately overdue

Tom Harkin

0:57:54 to 0:58:15( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: which is why i have consistently sponsored and supported the protecting america's workers act. this bill makes commonsense reforms to bring our workplace safety laws into the 21st century with minimal -- minimal burden on the vast majority of employers that comply with the law. in this congress, once again, i

Tom Harkin

0:58:16 to 0:58:37( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: try to do everything possible to fight for this important legislation. in addition to these much-needed updates to the occupational safety and health act, we also must recognize the key role that vigilant enforcement place in keeping -- place in keeping workers safe. safety laws don't work unless there's an legitimate -- a legitimate expectation that they

Tom Harkin

0:58:38 to 0:58:58( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: will actually be enforced. in recent years we made real progress in ensuring adequate funding for our workplace safety agencies. for example, increases in funding for the mine safety and health administration in recent years have enabled it to meet mandated safety and health inspections for three years in a

Tom Harkin

0:58:59 to 0:59:20( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: row. imsha, mine safety health administration and the department of labor have funds to attack a backlog of appeals filed by mine operators. these appeals have helped some operators avoid heightened enforcement actions. osha has received funds to restore the number of inspectors

Tom Harkin

0:59:21 to 0:59:45( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: it had over a decade ago. a decade ago. however, we here in the senate have recently had to fend off efforts to roll back this progress. h.r. 1, the republican fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill cut the occupational and safety

Tom Harkin

0:59:47 to 1:00:07( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: health administration by 18%. 18%. this would have paralyzed the agency and allowed unscrupulous employers to ignore worker safety and health protections. this bill would have allowed the backlog of mine safety and health citations to increase. it would have prevented msha from moving forward on improvements it has initiated in

Tom Harkin

1:00:08 to 1:00:28( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: mine emergency response and other areas. thankfully senate democrats and the president are standing firm and refusing to cut workplace safety funding to finance tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. as we continue the budget debates, we should keep in mind that the budget reflects moral

Tom Harkin

1:00:29 to 1:00:50( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: choices about the kind of country and society we want to be. firstly, i'm committed to upholding the bipartisan values we tphrebgted in the passage -- reflected in the passage of the occupational safety and health act. all americans have the right to a safe workplace. while we have made tremendous progress in the last 40 years

Tom Harkin

1:00:51 to 1:01:13( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: under osha, there's much more work to be done. over 4,000 lives lost each year is still unacceptably high. we owe the 4,340 workers we lost just last year our best efforts to ensure that such tragic losses are dramatically reduced, and we should not rest until all of our fathers, mothers,

Tom Harkin

1:01:14 to 1:01:34( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: sisters, brothers, our friends, our families can go to work each day knowing they will come home safely again each night. so once again, madam president, april 28, we commemorate workers memorial day and we renew our commitment to making sure that workers all across america have the protections of the

Tom Harkin

1:01:35 to 1:01:56( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: occupational safety and health act that we provide the funding for these agencies to make sure that the laws are enforced and to make sure that we reassure every worker in america that they have a right -- they have a right -- to a safe workplace. madam president, with that, i

Tom Harkin

1:01:57 to 1:02:07( Edit History Discussion )

Tom Harkin: yield the the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.

Personal tools

MetaVid is a non-profit project of UC Santa Cruz and the Sunlight Foundation. Learn more About MetaVid

The C-SPAN logo and other servicemarks that may be found in video content are the property of their respective trademark holders. None of these trademark holders are affiliated with Metavid