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Worksafe Statement on ABA Occupational Safety & Health Meeting

Worksafe regrets that we will be withdrawing from participation in this year’s ABA Occupational Safety and Health Law Committee Midwinter Meeting. Worksafe is committed to bringing the voice of workers to the table in all venues that we participate in, especially the most vulnerable workers, and both Managing Attorney Jora Trang and Senior Staff Attorney Nicole Marquez-Baker were scheduled to be on workshop panels at the conference. Given the troubling and unclear circumstances surrounding the revoking of Debbie Berkowitz’s invitation, we will withdraw our participation in solidarity.

Ms. Berkowitz is the worker safety and health program director at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). She is a recognized expert and leader in the field of occupational safety and health who has served as the chief of staff and senior policy adviser for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as health and safety director for both the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and the Allied Service Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. She had been invited to speak on the panel, “Toward a Safe New Day: The Role of New Technologies in Safety Programs,” together with Chrysoula Komis, Ph.D. of Colden Corp., Juan Lopez of the U.S. Department of Labor, and Heather MacDougall, Amazon Vice President, Worldwide, for Workplace Health and Safety. 

Worksafe believes strongly in the importance of ensuring a balanced perspective such that the labor side perspective is heard, in particular, Amazon’s health and safety record is currently the subject of significant national attention and controversy, and clearly Debbie Berkowitz would have contributed an essential point of view and expertise to this panel. It is our hope that the ABA OSH Section will in future ensure the full respectful inclusion and participation of labor advocates and attorneys.

For more information: Worker-safety expert faced pressure to withdraw from conference panel after releasing report critical of a sponsor: Amazon (Washington Post)