Belzoni, continued from page 29 to serve as an advocate for the nation’s workers? Kennedy’s staff discovered that Scalia had once actually represented workersa group suing their own union after they had crossed a picket line. Kennedy decided to filibuster. Tom Dasclale, then Senate majority leader, took his time scheduling a vote, predicting Scalia would lose whenever it happened. Bush realized it had been a lot easier to be “bipartisan” when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. So the president “recessed” Scalia in, installing him in office while Congress was adjourned. A recess appointment is basically an “up yours” to the Senate. It is something presidents rarely do, but it allowed Eugene Scalia to slip past the Senate. Thirteen months after Secretary Chao wrote senators promising she would “improve” ergonomics regs, the Bush administration announced its grand new plan for worker protection. To wit, OSHA announced that in six months it would publish a set of voluntary guidelines companies might choose to use to protect workers. In one of those little protocol tiffs that absorb so much energy in Washington, the White House even stiffed Democratic senators with the release of the plan on the voluntary workplace guidelines. “They came over and briefed the Republican senators,” a Senate committee staff member said. “Then they made the Democrats go over to the Labor Department for their briefing. And they didn’t even have enough information packets for the Democrats who showed up.” Readers of Washington tea leaves noted the new “voluntary rules” were announced on a Thursdaybad news is always released at the end of the weekly news cycle. A month later Secretary Chao assured angry members of the Senate Labor Committee that solicitor Scalia would aggressively enforce the voluntary guidelinesas soon as they were written. Chao said she was aware of Scalia’s anti-ergonom ics work in the past, but that was when he was a lobbyist working . for business interests. At the DOL, she promised, Gene Scalia would be different: “He has a new client.”* The news that there would be no workplace protections and that Eugene Scalia would be their advocate didn’t surprise a small group of catfish workers sitting in the living room of a housing project on a Sunday afternoon in Tchula, Mississippi. In this part of the Delta, most news related to workwhether cotton farms, catfish factories, or chicken-processing plantsis bad. “The unions, they might help you a little,” said a former “Chili stripper” \(Chili’s restaurant chain buys tons of catfish every year, cut companies don’t much listen to no union. These companies wear you out, and when you can’t work no more, they tell you good-bye.” She is in her mid-thirties; she doesn’t look a day over fifty-five. principle. Scalia had assumed he would be going to court to clean up the mess at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The mess had been made by Douglas McCarron, who had liberally interpreted the union’s election rules to get himself elected union president. McCarron was also tainted by his role in an insider-trading scandal involving a union-owned company. All of this made him the perfect target for the solicitor’s office. But he is also one of the very few friends George W Bush has in organized labor. He was the only labor guy invited to Bush’s big McCarron to court, as The Wall Street Journal lamented in an indignant op-ed piece. Working folks will find little comfort in Scalia’s replacement: his DOL understudy, Howard M. Radzely. Before signing on at the Labor Department Radzely was a law clerk for Michael Luttig, an arch-conservative front Tyler, Texas, sitting on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Radzely also clerked for Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, not exactly the working 1110171ati ‘S advocate on the high court. Radzely’s appointment might interest Sarah White back in Belzoni. He came into office as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union was leaning on the Department of Labor to enforce rules that provide worker access to rest rooms. Word quickly leaked from the DOL that Radzely’s strict constructionist take on the rules would require employers to provide adequate rest-room facilities but not require employers to allow workers access to the rest rooms.
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