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Suit Seeks to Stop Governor From Killing Cal/OSHA

February 27, 1987|JERRY GILLAM | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — A lawsuit seeking to halt Republican Gov. George Deukmejian's plan to eliminate state funding of a worker safety program was filed Thursday by the chairman of the Assembly labor commitee and a coalition of labor groups.

"The Legislature created Cal-OSHA and only the Legislature can unmake it," declared Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Hawthorne), chairman of the Labor and Employment Committee, which oversees workplace safety programs.

"If Cal-OSHA is abolished, the governor will be responsible for perhaps hundreds of needless deaths and thousands of needless injuries each year."

Joining Floyd in the action are labor groups representing construction workers, state attorneys and administrative law judges, professional scientists and professional engineers.

In his budget for fiscal year 1987-88, Deukmejian proposed cutting off the state's $8 million financing of Cal-OSHA, and turning responsibility for worker safety over to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The governor said he needed to reduce program costs in order to avoid violating a constitutional limit on state spending. Labor groups promptly charged that the federal job safety requirements fall far short of many California provisions.

Larry Newberry, an attorney for the coalition, charged Thursday that the governor is violating the state Constitution, the separation of powers, and his oath of office by proposing to abolish Cal-OSHA. Newberry filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court, then came to Sacramento for the press conference.

A spokesman for the Administration replied that Deukmejian has the legal authority to abolish Cal-OSHA.

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