GOP challenges new rules proposed by OSHA

Republican lawmakers are questioning a proposed new rule by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, demanding in a letter Wednesday to the Labor Department that it turn over all internal deliberations regarding it.

The letter strongly implies that the department is working with a major labor organization, the Service Employees International Union, on adopting the rule, which would benefit SEIU's labor organizing.

Reps. John Kline of Minnesota and Tim Walberg of Michigan, respectively the chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and chairman of its Workforce Protections Subcommittee, wrote the letter, which was addressed to Labor Secretary Tom Perez. The letter reacts to a recent OSHA proposal to expand its rules for when a franchiser is legally responsible for safety violations at a franchisee's business. Kline and Walberg strongly object to the proposal, arguing it will force the agency's investigators to "delve into unrelated matters — financial and otherwise — far outside their expertise."

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"OSHA already has a robust multi-employer citation policy. In undertaking determinations of whether a franchiser shares liability for the actions of its franchisees, OSHA inspectors are directed to consider who has control, responsibility or the ability to expose a worker to a hazard on a worksite. The department has not put forward any evidence to demonstrate the current multi-employer standard is not sufficient to hold accountable those who jeopardize employee health and safety," the lawmakers wrote.

The letter requests numerous documents related to the proposal, including "a list of all meetings between the department and stakeholders, including but not limited to the Service Employees International Union, and all associated documents and communications."

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