The Politics of Worker Protections

April 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

I have read and heard impressive news reports and human interest stories about the Massey Energy mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 miners on April 5. One report that hasn’t gotten as much attention is an article in The Washington Post that reveals political contributions by large mining companies. The report states that the mining industry holds significant political clout in Washington because of large campaign donations to GOP candidates. Combine the campaign contributions with strong lobbying efforts to minimize environmental and safety regulations, and the public image of the mining industry doesn’t look very good. Spending on lobbying for the mining industry increased from $10.2 million in 2004 to $31 million in 2008.

In contrast, the United Mine Workers donated $1 million to candidates during the same period.

The question is whether companies should allocate money to lobby against laws and regulations that are in the best interest of employees. After all, those employees helped generate the money that is being used against them. On the other hand, some regulations are not practical and can even hurt industries and the paychecks of their workers.

This question should be considered even more seriously now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same First Amendment rights to political speech as individuals. Some say this could flood campaign coffers with even higher corporate contributions.

We welcome your comments. If you have examples of how businesses have used corporate campaign contributions to benefit both workers and industry, please share those as well.

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Entry filed under: HR Management.

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