WASHINGTON-The executive vice president of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, Philip P. Friedlander Jr., has written Labor Secretary Robert Reich, protesting the Clinton administration's endorsement of a tough new bill to reform the operations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. H.R. 1280, the Comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health Reform Act of 1994, ``will have a chilling effect on the future economic viability of small businesses, as well as on future job creation,'' said Mr. Friedlander in his March 21 letter.
The OSHA reform bill passed the House Education and Labor Committee on March 10. Among other things, the bill requires the establishment of labor-management health and safety committees in companies with more than 10 employees, and sets tough new civil and criminal penalties for noncomplying employers.
In his letter, Mr. Friedlander called the bill ``a partisan document'' that is ``less about improving workplace safety and more about organized labor demonstrating its political clout.''
Mandating health and safety committees is another example of government interference with small business, he said.
This requirement will ``heighten workplace friction between management and labor,'' Mr. Friedlander said. ``It will foster an adversarial relationship, rather than a spirit of cooperation.''
Increased criminal penalties also will reinforce small-business owners' hostility toward government, Mr. Friedlander said.
``If OSHA and the Department of Labor want the small business community to approach the issue of workplace safety with a positive attitude, it would be far better for the department to make a concerted effort to look for ways to encourage a spirit of cooperation, rather than to attempt to bludgeon small business owners into compliance,'' he said.
Mr. Friedlander urged Mr. Reich to re-evaluate H.R. 1280 and make it a bill ``that can enjoy bipartisan support.''
There was no word at presstime on when the OSHA reform bill would go to the House floor for a vote.