Nurses Welcome Change in Labor Department

For Immediate Release

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Charles Idelson, 510-273-2246

Nurses Welcome Change in Labor Department

WASHINGTON - The nation's largest organization of registered nurses today welcomed the announced appointment of California Congresswoman Hilda Solis as "opening the door to a desperately needed change of course at the Department of Labor."

"Over the past eight years, the Labor Department has been subverted from what should be its primary mission of promoting the health, safety, and well being of working Americans," said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the 85,000-member California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

"No area of government has better symbolized the failed policies of the Bush administration in its tilt toward corporate interests and hostility to workers, from oversight of health and safety laws to employment standards. As our economic survival as a nation continues to deteriorate, a wholesale change in the priorities and activities of the DOL could not be more needed or timely," said DeMoro.

This past July, for example, the Government Accounting Office issued a report indicting the DOL for its dismal failure to investigate complaints by low wage workers about "wage-theft" in refusal to pay large number of workers for overtime and other pay standards.

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Additionally, there have been rampant reports in the New York Times and other media about rampant problems with workplace safety regulations. The inevitable conclusion, said DeMoro, "is that during the Bush years, the Department has been far more concerned with rolling back protections than enforcing them. The consequences for worker and consumer safety have been devastating."

Under the current administration, the DOL has also "been sanguine about employer abuses while pushing draconian oversight of unions. Carrying out the agenda of anti-union committees does not serve the interests of American workers," DeMoro said.

"With rising unemployment, escalating problems with workplace safety, growing income inequality, we desperately need a new Department of Labor that is a champion of working people, not their adversary. We are hopeful that today's appointment is the crucial first step in that process," DeMoro said. 

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National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

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