House Bill 190, or the Protecting America's Workers Act (PAWA) , is a bill that was introduced to the United States House of Representatives in January of 2011. The bill would expound on particular safety provisions in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH) of 1970. To truly understand PAWA, and its future ramifications, one has to first understand how OSH works and the intentions behind the legislation that was passed over forty years ago. OSH was passed by Congress back when Richard Nixon was President.
The context is important: during the 1970s, the United States was a key player in the manufacturing industry, particularly the manufacturing of metals and plastics, which were used for consumer products. Those consumer products could be as small as toys for children, or as large as cars for adults. In particular, there were many automobile manufacturing centers in the Mid-West region, with cities such as Detroit and Cleveland leading the way and employing tens of thousands of Americans. Today, these manufacturing centers have moved to other countries where manufacturing goods is much cheaper.
[...] Although unregulated businesses might be more profitable for employers (also providing more tax money for the government) , it also puts employees at high risk for injury without compensation. When workers are not protected in the workplace, they are more likely to perform below optimal levels, and when they do get injured, their entire families are at risk to fall into poverty. PAWA also protects the environment from being overly contaminated by employers who use dangerous chemicals. The environment is a public good, and keeping it clean and safe for all is beneficial for society. Ultimately, PAWA is a positive legislation that promotes the public good. [...]
[...] But that's not even close to being the truth. The truth is that PAWA is strong legislation that by imposing fines and negative incentives on businesses, creates a better work environment for low skill high risk workers who comprise a large segment of the population. It also improves the economy by providing compensation for these workers, allowing them to spend money on the open market without worrying about their jobs. Helping keep the environment safe and free of excess chemicals is only a bonus, which helps the short and long term stability of the economy and society as a whole. [...]
[...] PAWA also forces employers to limit the amount of gas emissions and chemicals that are released into the environment. Having a safe and clean environment is paramount for both the future of human society, and the smooth operation of the current economy. Having environmental disasters such as oil spills make it difficult to impossible to do business. Destroying the environment and the ecosystem is a huge determinant to doing business, as well as hurting the future for society. PAWA is a huge positive for society as a whole and it is a public good that should be championed by American legislators. [...]
[...] Labor relations paper Executive Summary: When looking at PAWA, I've come to the conclusion that the legislation is a positive for the public and generates a public good. PAWA should be supported because it helps to keep workers in high risk situations safe, it helps to preserve the environment and keep it clean for the long term, it helps to stimulate the economy, and it punishes businesses that don't follow the prescribed regulation. This legislation directly benefits low wage high risk workers, such as immigrants, who are working in dangerous conditions. [...]
[...] Counter Arguments Opponents of PAWA are usually lobbyists for big business and other special interests. Corporations are worried about their bottom line first, which means that they aren't usually in favor of regulation that forces them to spend extra money in order to protect workers or the environment. There are a few different arguments that opponents of PAWA use in order to advance their cause, and by now legislators on both sides of the aisle are familiar with what they are. [...]
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