40 Year Journey: HPAE Ally, Rick Engler, and CWA President Larry Cohen - Health Professionals & Allied Employees

40 Year Journey: HPAE Ally, Rick Engler, and CWA President Larry Cohen

From the Communications Workers of America (CWA), March 7, 2015

On Wednesday, Rick Engler, the director of the NJ Work Environment Council was sworn in for a five year term as a member of the Chemical Safety Board by Senators Booker and Menendez. Larry was the MC in the historic Senate Foreign Relations room of the Capitol. The Chemical Safety Board serves to protect the most dangerous work in our nation and the communities surrounded by those facilities.

40 years ago Rick moved to Philadelphia to start the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health. OSHA had recently been passed. Larry was a mechanic, a student and a public worker across the river in NJ. Amazingly Rick brought his well worn car to “Larry’s Garage” and while Larry worked on his car (frequently) Rick tied up the phone building Philaposh. Soon after that, Larry and others formed the State Workers Organizing Committee and years later, now part of CWA, SWOC won representation elections for 40,000 state workers.

Even more amazingly, Rick was asked by the White House to serve on the CSB three years ago! His nomination, like many others, was tied up by the Senate Republicans.

In November 2013 when our efforts to save the NLRB and change the Senate rules on nominations succeeded, Rick thought he would finally be confirmed. But there were hundreds of nominations tied up and like most of the others, he never got a vote and was then re-nominated by the President in January 2014. It was only on the last day of the last Congress that Rick finally received a vote and was confirmed.

The 2015 Senate led by Mitch McConnell likely would have held it forever.

For Rick and Larry, March 4 was a special day.

Rick Engler and the NJ Work Environment Council have been long time partners with HPAE in the fight for a safe and healthy workplace. Rick’s spouse is Jeanne Otersen, HPAE’s Chief of Staff. “Larry” is Larry Cohen, the President of the CWA, a union representing 700,000 workers in private and public sector employment, including many New Jersey state employees.