American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Industrial Union Department v. Marshall

570 F.2d 1030 (1978)

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American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Industrial Union Department v. Marshall

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
570 F.2d 1030 (1978)

Facts

When the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (act) was enacted, there was some resistance to the federalization of workplace safety. Accordingly, the act provided for states to maintain responsibility for occupational safety and health upon the submission of acceptable plans to the United States secretary of labor (secretary) (defendant). Section 18(c) of the act specified criteria for determining plan acceptability—§ 18(c)(2) required that a state standard be at least as effective as federal standards, and § 18(c)(4) and (5) required adequate assurances that the state agency administering the plan would have sufficient qualified personnel and adequate funds to enforce the state standard. There were two stages to the approval process for state plans—initial approval and final approval. The secretary promulgated standards for evaluating state plans. However, the standards included personnel and funding benchmarks that were predicated on artificially low federal enforcement levels because the secretary had refrained from committing full resources to enforcement of the act until the likely extent of state participation would be known. The secretary also had not developed a program for progressing from the initial as-effective-as approach toward the personnel and funding levels necessary for fully effective enforcement. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Industrial Union Department (union) (plaintiff) challenged the secretary’s standards for evaluating state plans and the secretary’s initial approval of approximately 25 state plans, arguing that the secretary’s standards lacked rational criteria and guidelines. The secretary countered that subsections (c)(4) and (c)(5) should be read in light of subsection (c)(2)’s requirement that a state standard be at least as effective as federal standards. The district court entered summary judgment upholding the secretary’s regulations, and the union appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leventhal, J.)

Concurrence (MacKinnon, J.)

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