Thursday, September 16, 2010

OSHA, the agency scorned by labor haters, has been meek and weak

Corporations scoff at workers' rights--even the right to come home from work alive
from Hightower Lowdown
edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer
Their names probably won't mean mean anything to you, but these people ought to have some modicum of personal recognition: Jason Anderson, Aaron Dale "Bubba" Burkeen, Donald Clark, Stephen Curtis, Gordon Jones, Roy Wyatt Kemp, Karl Kleppinger, Blair Manuel, Dewey Revette, Shane Roshto, and Adam Weise. These are the 11 workers who were killed when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico on April 20.

Four months after the disaster, national media outlets continue extensive coverage of BP's calamitous well--as they should--showing us satellite pictures of the spreading plumes of pollution, footage of dead pelicans, estimates of the ecological horror on the ocean floor, analyses of the frantic efforts to stop the oil, commentaries on the astonishing arrogance of corporate executives, feature stories about the slick's impact on Gulf tourism, interviews with lawmakers demanding much tougher environmental protections, etc...

But what about those people? Most of the 11 were in their twenties and thirties. They had families and futures. Yet, aside from an occasional off-handed reference to the general body count, their fate had pretty much been dropped from discussion about the cost of our country's cavalier ethic of "drill, baby, drill." And what about the 17 other rig workers who were injured in the Deepwater explosion, many of them badly burned and maimed. There's barely been any media mention of the price they paid for the corporate rush to complete this well, much less any follow-up on their painful and costly ordeal.

I'm not pleading here for maudlin coverage of victims--but for ACTION! Just as the Deepwater catastrophe is a screaming wake-up call and a vital teaching moment for environmental protection, so it is for the protection of America's workforce. Eleven people didn't merely perish in the Gulf on April 20; they were killed by a careless cabal of corporate greedheads and ideological boneheads. It's a case of institutional murder--and it's a shockingly common occurrence in our country.

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