I nearly fell out of my chair when I read that the Clinton
administration paid 28 witnesses $10,000 each to supply “friendly” testimony on
controversial federal ergonomics rules.
In a letter to Charles Jeffress of the federal Occupational Safety
and Health Administration (OSHA), Pat Cleary of the National Association
of Manufacturers expressed his frustration this way:
“I spent 10 years in federal government, four
of those at the Labor Department, and I must say this
is unprecedented. In the interest of fairness, I’m
enclosing an invoice for $10,000 for my testimony in
opposition to this rule.”
Cleary is still waiting for a reply from OSHA.
While Cleary’s $10,000 invoice was sent “tongue-in-cheek,”
what OSHA did is no laughing matter. In fact, it is a perfect example of why
the American people are so cynical about government.
Apparently, it is not uncommon to pay experts to testify on
proposed rules. But in this case, OSHA paid only those “experts” who
support the department’s proposed
Why would bureaucrats resort to paying for supportive testimony if
the rule made sense and was based on sound science? The answer is,
The inherent problem with any ergonomics regulation, including
the version proposed by the Washington State Department of Labor and
Industries, is there is simply no sound medical or scientific evidence to
support it. Whether it’s the state, federal or local ergonomics rule, it makes
no sense at this time. Employers will be forced to pay for a costly
unscientific experiment with no assurance that it will prevent a single injury.
Congress was so incensed by OSHA’s latest attempt to impose
ergonomics rules, not to mention the Clinton administration’s cavalier
disregard for the integrity of the federal rule-making process, that it
voted along party lines to cut off funds to OSHA for implementing its
Hopefully, this is one battle Congress will win. Every
hard-working American knows that it is wrong to spend $280,000 of their tax money
to skew public testimony on proposed legislation.
Don Brunell is president of the Association of Washington
Business, Washington State’s Chamber of Commerce. Visit AWB on the Web