Can OSHA protect low wage immigrant workers?

This is a question we have to ask after its abject failure to address toxic exposures in microwave popcorn plants, as described this week in the New York Times. “The people at OSHA have no interest in running a regulatory agency,” said Dr. David Michaels, an occupational health expert at George Washington University who has written extensively about workplace safety. “If they ever knew how to issue regulations, they’ve forgotten. The concern about protecting workers has gone out the window.”
Sure, OSHA has made efforts, including some alliances with local organizations close to immigrant-driven industries such as home building. I have posted on some in the past. But like much of America, OSHA seems to be unable to grasp the significance of the huge multi-lingual labor presence in our economy. Mentally, the country thinks as if a tiny fraction of workers are immigrants. Well, over 12% are, and in numerous job sectors the percentage is over 50%.
A main reasons I strongly support the introduction of a guest worker program is that it will provide a foundation for more focused attention to work protections of immigrant workers – not just currently undocumented workers, but all low wage immigrant workers.

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