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February 7, 2006

Marsha Renwanz at (202) 225-1506


Washington, DC - February 7, 2006 - Congressman Major R. Owens today denounced President Bush’s failure to propose a significant increase in funding for mine safety in the 2007 budget released yesterday as well as his request for increased union-busting funds.

“Yesterday, the President released a 2007 budget that would increase mine safety funding by no more than 3.6 percent, despite the fact that last month, 18 miners were killed in 6 separate mine catastrophes,” Owens stated. “Adding insult to injury, this same 2007 budget proposes an increase in federal resources for union-busting by 14.6 percent—despite the fact that workers in union mines are better protected,” Owens added.

Since 2001, MSHA has withdrawn 18 rules intended to make coal miners’ jobs safer, including those to strengthen mine rescue teams, improve the flame resistance of mine conveyor belts, and limit the build-up of combustible coal dust and exposure to toxic chemicals. The Bush White House has also requested annual budget cuts and downsized 170 full-time positions at MSHA in that time frame. In contrast, the Bush budget asks for dramatically higher funding and staffing levels for the Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS), to carry out exhaustive annual financial audits for unions and individual union officeholders.

“This 2007 budget is a clear statement of the President’s priorities and values. And it clearly shows that he thinks union-busting is four times more important than ensuring the safety and health of America’s miners,” Owens underscored. “This budget clearly turns its back on some of the hardest-working Americans and their families, as well as the unions that help safeguard them. As such, it should be roundly rejected,” Owens stressed.

As senior Democrat on the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, Owens is recognized as a national leader in the fight to promote safety and prevent injury and illness for hard working Americans and their families.



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