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Enjoy the Last Days of a President Who Does the Right Thing

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The last days of Obama make me sad because there are enough good things happening, even though I have my strong criticisms of his presidency, that it’s incredibly depressing think about what could be versus what will be. Two critical items, just from the last three days.

First, there’s OSHA’s announcement that it will pursue a federal workplace standard on workplace violence for health care and social service workers.

The effort to provide better protections for health care and social service workers has gained momentum in recent months. In December, OSHA issued a Request for Information about whether to propose a standard aimed at preventing workplace violence in the two industries, citing a Government Accountability Office report that noted rates of workplace violence in the health care and social service industries were “substantially higher” than in private industry.

“Our nurses came to D.C. today to speak out on the importance of passing an enforceable workplace violence prevention standard, and we are thrilled to know that OSHA has granted NNU’s petition for that standard to begin to take shape,” Bonnie Castillo, health and safety director for Silver Spring, MD-based NNU, said in a press release. “Such regulations are vital to protecting nurses and other health care workers, as well their patients, from the epidemic of workplace violence across the U.S.”

In Congress, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) has called on OSHA to promulgate a workplace violence standard. Earlier this month, outgoing OSHA administrator David Michaels sent a letter to Scott thanking him for his concern and supporting his position.

“I agree with you that workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard that presents a significant risk for health care and social assistance workers,” Michaels wrote. “Evidence indicates that the rate of workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sector is substantially higher than private industry as a whole and that the health care and social assistance sector is growing. In response to this problem, OSHA has used the General Duty Clause in cases involving employers that expose workers to this recognized hazard in a growing number of workplaces. OSHA has also revised its guidance on preventing workplace violence for health care and social service workers, and has conducted its first comprehensive workplace violence training for its Compliance Officers.

I think we all know this is going to go nowhere under Trump and Andy Pudzer’s Department of Labor.

And then there is Obama using the Antiquities Act for what I imagine is the last time, creating three new national monuments and expanding two others. He has created the first national monument to remember Reconstruction, in South Carolina, as well as national monuments in Birmingham and Anniston to remember the civil rights movement. He also expanded the California Coastal National Monument and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument along the Oregon-California border. Given that I’m an Oregonian and that there is slow momentum building toward monuments to eventually be created out of the old growth Cascade forests and the wild southeastern part of the state, it would be great to see the Antiquities Act continue. And maybe it will be–after all, I don’t know that the western Republicans outraged by these monuments have the political clout to get the Senate votes and few presidents want to give away their own power. But of course anything is on the table right now. Maybe we can convince Trump to name his own properties national monuments to himself, along with a huge check from the government to compensate him.

But hey, at least 25 year olds will soon be denied access to their parents’ health insurance so that if they survive their cancer, they will be in debt forever. Freedom is finally at hand.

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