Congressman Tom Price MD (R-GA) is apparently offended by the suggestion that some companies are not model employers. During last week’s hearing in the House Education and Labor Committee on a bill to modernize a few provisions of the OSHA and MSHA statutes, he seemed annoyed that asst. secretary of labor for OSHA, David Michaels, has characterized some employers as “unscrupulous.” The Congressman said:
“Secretary Michaels, you have talked a number of times about [quote] unscrupulouos employers [unquote]. Do you want to name any?”
Dr. Michaels responded with one example:
“a certain oil company with the initials BP.”
It’s not surprising that BP would be one of the first companies to come to the asst. secretary’s mind. Last year, OSHA proposed an $87.4 million penalty against the firm for “life-threatening” and “serious systemic safety problems” at its Texas City, Texas refinery. In 2004 and 2005, 17 workers were killed at this plant, and safety problems continue to go unabated. In this latest slew of citations, OSHA inspectors characterized 439 of the violations as “willful,” that is, intentional or plain indifference to the law. To me, willful violations seems to correspond well to the definition of unscrupulous:
disregards, or has contempt for, laws of right or justice with which he or she is perfectly well acquainted.
When Congressman Price pressed the asst. secretary for other examples of employers who deserve the “unscrupulous” label, Dr. Michaels said:
“if you’d like, I can certainly get you a list.”
Let’s lend a hand to the Labor Department and start our own list of nominees.
I’ll offer one, a nominee from the State of Tennessee: Peachtree Maintenance, Inc. This firm was engage in wage theft of nearly $434,000 affecting 81 workers. Twenty four of the workers were from Guatemala and were employed under the H2-B program. Stealing wages rightfully earned by individuals is not way to treat guest workers in our country. (Companies are able to sponsors immigrant workers temporarily if the employers attest that there are no able, willing, qualified and available individuals for the jobs.)
Use the comment box below to nominate your choice(s) for unscrupulous employers. Give the name of the company and why you’d label them unscrupulous.