Saturday, March 24, 2007


In January of 2001 Jordon Barab, then an appointee of several years as "a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA" turned into a self-described pumpkin when the new winds blew through Washington.

A year and a half later, in March of 2003, he started up "Confined Space," a blog intended to cover workers safety and health issues.

And did it so well that it was voted a Kolfax award for "Best Single Issue Blog" in 2005

Unfortunately, the fields had been sown thickly with dragon's teeth, with all too much to tell about roll-backs in safety standards, the eviscerating of OSHA, and the toll of injury and death to America's workers, with more than 15 workers killed every day, and a workplace injury every 2.5 seconds.

Well, with the new winds again blowing through Washington, in January of this year, "Confined Spaces" turned into a pumpkin and Barab turned into a horse-drawn coach an appointee to the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. Barab has decided that, from the viewpoints both of time and conflict-of-interest, he has given up being an active advocate in phosphor, and will fill that role in the halls of the U.S. Congress

Confined Space will stay up, with its archive as a resource, and some of the focus points will be taken on by other writers.

Even more than wage issues, unions got legs because of worker safety issues. Maybe some unions have adopted some practices that are counter-productive, (even spawning words like "featherbedding").

But the "free market" is one that grinds up workers and discards the carcass, and unions are still desperately needed.

The paradox in all that is that more and more rank-and-file workers think that the unions have had their day, and that management will magicly become altruistic and safety-conscious. I saw this sea-change in my own mother, as she, a woman who had worked for decades as a charwoman and then as a postal worker, bought the free-market lies whole-heartedly.

At the bottom of his last post at Confined Space Barab linked a video from YouTube that shows the need, and the solution, far better than I. I've copied it here.

Keep fighting Jordon, keep fighting.

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