At the Madison.com forums I had this to say in response to “I would be very interested to see items, when it comes to safety, that are removed because collective bargaining has gone away“:
While OSHA does a decent job of protecting most workplaces, there are some trades that “push the envelope” and thus those unions will negotiate for more stringent safety issues. (And yes, the State as well as cities/counties have some of those workers on the payroll.)
For example, there is no law regarding meals/breaks for adult workers in Wisconsin. While working 8 hours without a break ain’t that big of a deal (it sucks, but it ain’t dangerous) if you are at a desk (and yes, companies will do this! I worked for a hotel’s call center that eliminated all breaks during their busy season), fatigue can be a serious issue for other professions that are more physically demanding and/or located in a dangerous environment.
Other examples that may be included in contracts are certification for equipment (Aren’t any laws regarding forklift operators, but I don’t wanna work next to someone that doesn’t know what he is doing), protection gear, and rigging&climbing requirements/rules.
I’m not saying that the state/city/county will automatically get rid of all the various safety rules and workplace conditions that are in contracts, but rather I’m pointing out that any that do remain will now be merely suggestions that can be revoked at management’s whim rather than something that can be contractually enforced.
Entire thread is here.