Bloomberg Law
April 3, 2023, 9:45 AM

Punching In: OSHA Urged to Set Standard for Workplace Monitoring

Rebecca Rainey
Rebecca Rainey
Parker Purifoy
Parker Purifoy
Diego Areas Munhoz
Diego Areas Munhoz

Monday morning musings for workplace watchers.

Monitoring Workers|Dialysis Centers Unionize |College Athletes’ Rights

Rebecca Rainey: More than a dozen advocacy groups—including Governing for Impact and the Center for Democracy & Technology—are calling on OSHA to address with rulemaking the use of electronic surveillance and algorithmic management in the workplace.

The groups argue that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the authority to regulate the issue because it impacts workers’ mental health and physical safety.

The letter, to be sent to the Biden administration Monday, also called on the workplace safety watchdog to update its current workplace injury prevention guidance to include the ergonomic risks the technology can cause, and create new guidance specific to the warehousing sector, among other issues.

“As President Biden’s new labor secretary nominee has herself noted, technology can seriously impact worker safety and power,” Rachael Klarman, executive director at GFI, said in an email. “The Biden administration must use its existing authority to better regulate surveillance tech and protect American workers.”

Read the letter and the policy proposals.

Meanwhile, 27 workers a day on average suffer severe injuries on the job that cause the loss of an eye, an amputation, or an overnight stay at a hospital, according to a new analysis of OSHA data.

The analysis is based on new reporting some companies were required to start submitting on severe injuries to the safety agency within 24 hours of the incident starting in January 2015.

From 2015 until the end of May 2022, employers reported 74,025 severe injuries, researchers Debbie Berkowitz and Patrick Dixon at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor found. However, the data only represents the 29 states that are under federal OSHA jurisdiction.


Parker Purifoy: Almost 100 employees at four different dialysis clinics in California have filed petitions for union representation in the last two weeks, signaling a new organizing push in one of the world’s biggest dialysis companies.

Workers at Fresenius Medical Care clinics around California filed representation petitions with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking to organize with the SEIU United Healthcare Workers union. Representatives from the union said employees at the dialysis facilities want higher wages and better working conditions as they’ve battled the pandemic and nationwide inflation.

UHW won representation elections at eight different Fresenius facilities across the state in 2022. Union spokesperson Renée Saldaña said UHW has been attempting to organize Fresenius and other dialysis centers since 2016, but the campaign took off last year and is now spreading like “wildfire.” The employees petitioning for representation this year work at facilities in Fontana, Orange, Chula Vista, and San Diego.

“They worked through the trauma of Covid-19 and now that the pandemic is easing, they’re hit again with an inflation and cost of living crisis,” Saldaña said.

The units are mostly made up of the dialysis technicians and registered nurses, but also include some administrative staff. Workers are paid an average of $24 per hour, which makes them some of the lowest-paid health-care workers, and face deteriorating conditions from low staffing and faulty machinery, Saldaña said.

Over 500,000 US patients a year get dialysis treatment, according to the US National Institutes of Health, and is the only medical alternative to a kidney transplant. More than half of the world’s kidney dialysis machines are produced by Fresenius, according to the company’s website.

Fresenius representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) exit the Senate Chamber at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 21, 2021. The two lawmakers are working on a bill to tackle state laws that regulate student athlete NIL rights.
Photographer: Tom Brenner/Bloomberg

Diego Areas Munhoz: March Madness has moved from the basketball courts to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are working to figure out a national standard for name, image, and likeness rights for college athletes.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last week on NIL dealmaking rights, while in the Senate, retired college football coach Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) are working on a bill to tackle the patchwork of state laws that currently regulate such rights.

“Right now, it’s the Wild West,” Tuberville told Bloomberg Law. “We’ve got to put some kind of parameters so everybody’s doing the same thing.”

Since the US Supreme Court decided that athletes can be paid for their names, images, and likenesses, states have passed scores of laws on such dealmaking rights. But the lack of a federal standard has created “chaos,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court ruling did not offer clear rules of the road,” McMorris Rodgers said during the March 29 hearing. “Instead, we’ve seen a roller coaster of state activity as states compete to have the most advantageous laws for their respective schools.”

Some say, though, that establishing a national standard may not be the best route given that it could downsize NIL rights to create a one-size-fits-all standard.

“The problems of college athletics are not so large that they cannot be solved by those within the industry,” Jason Stahl, executive director and founder of the College Football Players Association, said during the hearing.

The ability to monetize their NIL has brought great benefits to athletes and their families, he said. The current issues can be solved by industry stakeholders like players associations, so that they don’t end up seeing those rights restricted, he added.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who has been outspoken on compensation for student athletes, said the Tuberville-Manchin bill may indeed be too narrow.

“I have no interest in restricting students’ access to NIL rights if the NCAA isn’t going to agree to some broad compensation program for student athletes at the big time sports programs,” said Murphy, who’s introduced legislation to allow such athletes to unionize.

We’re punching out. Daily Labor Report subscribers, please check in for updates during the week, and feel free to reach out to us.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rebecca Rainey in Washington at; Parker Purifoy in Washington at; Diego Areas Munhoz in Washington, D.C. at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Genevieve Douglas at

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