Don’t Delay OSHA Silica Case for Trump Decision, Unions Tell Judge

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By Bruce Rolfsen

Unions are fighting an industry request for a federal judge to allow time for the Trump administration to decide if it will defend OSHA’s 11-month-old silica rule.

“It is at best cynical, and at worst a derogation of the rule of law, for the industry petitioners to ask this Court to assume that the new administration will see fit to ignore the factual determinations OSHA reached,” the unions said in a motion filed Feb. 9 with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ( N. Am. Bldg. Trade Unions v. OSHA , D.C. Cir., 16-1105, 2/7/17 ).

The unions asked the judge not to grant the industry request to delay, for 60 days, a series of filing deadlines for briefs detailing the opposing sides’ positions.

The union-backed rule sets tougher exposure limits for silica that can be inhaled by workers, especially those in the construction industry (81 Fed. Reg. 16,285). About 2.3 million workers are exposed to silica and of those, about 940,000 are exposed to silica levels exceeding the new standard, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (RIN:1218-AB70).

The unions are the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, United Auto Workers and North America’s Building Trades Unions.

The current case schedule calls for industry groups and unions to submit briefs Feb. 24 and to file final briefs March 23.

The industry groups filed a motion Feb. 7 asking for the court to delay initial brief filing until April 25 and to push back filing final briefs to May 22.

President Donald Trump’s nominees for secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, is scheduled to have his first confirmation hearing on Feb. 16. A confirmation vote by the full Senate likely wouldn’t take place until March.

Trump has yet to nominate an OSHA administrator or deputy.

Victoria Bor of Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer & Yellig PC; Jeremiah Collins of Bredhoff & Kaiser PLLC; and Randy Rabinowitz of the Occupational Safety & Health Law Project represent the unions.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

For More Information

The union motion is available at http://src.bna.com/l8C.

The silica rule is available at http://src.bna.com/dHU.

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