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National COSH Announces Action Agenda: “Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs”

90+ Groups Endorse New Workplace Safety Protections
to Save Thousands of Lives, Billions of Dollars

Advocates also call for action in local communities and workplaces

San Diego – Today the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) announced a new action agenda: “Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs.”

Advocates say the comprehensive platform for strong worker safety protections can save thousands of workers’ lives and reduce costs to employers by billions of dollars. Delegations of safety advocates from 12 communities will schedule visits to present the platform to members of Congress in ten states in the coming weeks. 

“Out-of-touch politicians are misreading the results of the last election,” said Jora Trang, managing attorney at San Francisco-based Worksafe and president of the National COSH board of directors. “Nobody voted to get sick or die at work. We need stronger safety protections and tougher enforcement – not weaker laws and fewer life-saving regulations.”

On a typical day, 13 U.S. workers die from preventable hazards in the workplace.  Among those who have lost their lives in March 2017 are:

·      Construction worker David Williams, 36, killed when a trench collapsed at a building site in San Antonio, TX

·      Roberto Cortez, 36, died after a fall from an unmanned tree service truck in Bell Canyon, CA

·      Timothy Dragon, 42, lost his life at the Granite City Steelworks in Granite City, MO

 Recent Congressional actions have put workers at risk by taking steps to reverse longstanding recordkeeping rules and eliminate sanctions against federal contractors who violate safety laws. Delegations led by local COSH groups will schedule visit to Congressional offices as safety activists prepare to observe Workers Memorial Week. The observance, marked in communities around the world from April 23 through April 30, honors workers who have died on the job.

“Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs” has been endorsed by 92 local, regional and statewide organizations representing workers, unions, environmentalists and civic groups. Key elements of the platform include: ensuring health and safety protections for all workers, reducing and working to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals; ensuring injured workers access to quality medical care; accurate counting of all occupational injuries and illnesses, and measures to adapt to – and reduce – further climate change.

“Every day in this country, workers are dying from conditions we know how to prevent,” said Joseph Zanoni, PhD, director of continuing education at the Illinois Health and Safety Education and Research Center and chair of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA). The OHS Section of APHA is one of the endorsers of “Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs.”

“There’s no reason for a worker to drown in a trench or get crushed to death by a machine without proper guarding,” said Zanoni. “We can prevent these tragedies by engaging workers in training and applying proven safety practices – and if we do, we’ll save lives, increase productivity and reduce the high cost of caring for sick, injured and fallen workers.” 

More than 4,500 U.S. workers die every year from preventable workplace trauma and an estimated 95,000 die from long-term occupational illnesses. Millions more are injured after exposure to preventable safety hazards. The cost to U.S. employers for workers’ compensation alone was $91.8 billion in 2014, representing a fraction of the total cost of workplace deaths injuries and illnesses.

In addition to meeting with members of Congress, health and safety activists plan to push for better safety practices in U.S. workplaces and enhanced protections in state and municipal law.

For example, following a recent tragedy, the Boston City Council passed a new ordinance giving city officials authority to deny construction permits to companies with a record of poor safety practices. Boston construction workers Kelvin Mattocks and Robert Higgins drowned to death in a trench in October 2016 because their employer, Atlantic Drain Services, failed to follow required safety precautions by shoring up the excavation site. Atlantic Drain had a long history of safety violations; the company and its owner, Kevin Otto have been indicted for manslaughter. The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill to increase penalties against employers when a worker is killed on the job.

In Dallas, after construction worker Roendy Granillo died of heat exhaustion in 2015 during a triple-digit heat wave, his family joined a successful campaign to pass a new city ordinance requiring mandatory rest and water breaks on building sites.

We can’t wait for tragedy to strike before we take action,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH. “We have to improve our safety laws and insist on tough enforcement before workers are hurt or killed on the job.”

“We’re going to make it clear to public officials, if you stall on safety legislation or cut back on regulations, you are putting people’s lives at risk,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, also a co-executive director of National COSH. “If a worker dies from a cause you failed to prevent, that’s on your watch – so you better start thinking about what you will say to that person’s family.”

“Protecting Workers’ Lives and Limbs” is available in English and Spanish on the National COSH website here and below.

A list of the 92 organizations endorsing the platform is here and below. 

Protecting Workers' Lives and Limbs -3-15-17 3-30 pm(2).compressed

Protecting Workers' Lives and Limbs Endorsements_0

 

Preventing Workplace Violence: National COSH and Local Groups Join Call for OSHA Standard for Health Care and Social Service Workers

NCOSH 300X250San Diego – In solidarity with labor unions representing millions of American workers, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH) and other local COSH organizations have endorsed petitions calling for a comprehensive federal standard to prevent workplace violence in the health care and social assistance sectors.

“With an issue like workplace violence, it’s easy to say, ‘Hey, how can you stop a person who wants to hurt somebody?’” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But that’s just wrong and ignores documented best practices. If you address issues like adequate staffing and lines of communication, worksite security, proper training and safety protocols, there’s no question you can reduce the risks faced by health care and social service workers.”

Workplace violence is a problem across all sectors of the economy. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million workers each year report that they are victims of violent incidents on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported more than 400 workplace homicides in 2014, making homicide the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.

Health care and social service workers are among those most at risk. Fifty-two percent of victims of workplace violence, according to the BLS, are health care and social service workers.

On July 12, a coalition of unions filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Labor, calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a “comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard to protect all workers in healthcare and social service settings.” The coalition of labor unions includes the AFL-CIO; American Federation of Teachers; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; American Federation of Government Employees; Communications Workers of America; International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Service Employees International Union; the United Steelworkers and National Nurses United.

“Like other on-the-job hazards, workplace violence can be prevented – in health care, social services and in other sectors” said National COSH Senior Organizer Peter Dooley. “To be effective, a workplace violence prevention standard must be part of a comprehensive, systems approach to workplace safety, with workers involved in every step of the process.  That includes evaluating risks, assessing remedies, reporting incidents without fear of retaliation, and design of rigorous training.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels, National COSH and local COSH groups point to the proven effectiveness of prevention programs. “A comprehensive workplace violence prevention program,” the letter states, “reduced rates of assault at Veterans Health Administration hospitals between 2004 and 2009.”  The letter also notes that the states of California and Minnesota have recently passed legislation requiring health care employers to implement workplace violence prevention programs.

In addition to National COSH, local groups signing on to yesterday’s letter include:

  • Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health (ConnectiCOSH)
  • Fe y Justicia Worker Center (Houston COSH)
  • Maine Labor Group on Health
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
  • Mid-State Education and Service Foundation
  • New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NHCOSH)
  • New Jersey Work Environment Council (NJWEC)
  • New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH)
  • NorthEast New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (RICOSH)
  • South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
  • Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH)
  • Western Massachusetts Coalition for Workplace Safety and Health (WesternMassCOSH)
  • Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH)
  • Worksafe

Yesterday’s letter to Secretary Perez and Assistant Secretary Michaels is available here.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

A Thanksgiving Appeal to CEOs: Raise Wages, Improve Conditions for Poultry Workers

LemonChicken2 

San Diego, CA – As Americans from coast-to-coast prepare for Thanksgiving, worker advocates are calling on CEOs of America’s largest poultry companies to raise wages, improve safety conditions and guarantee fair treatment for workers who help feed millions of American families.

Three advocacy organizations – Interfaith Worker Justice, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) and the Western North Carolina Workers Center – today released copies of letters to: 

·      Jim Perdue, CEO of Perdue Farms, Salisbury, MD

·      Joe F. Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, Laurel, MS

·      Bill Lovette, President and CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride, Greeley, CO

Advocates cite low wages with scant benefits; high rates of injury among poultry workers; and a climate of fear and intimidation inside poultry plants as conditions that require immediate attention.

“We are the workers who make the holidays happen,” said Omar Hassan, a former employee at a turkey processing plant in Minnesota. A Somali immigrant, Hassan was discharged after suffering an on-the-job injury.  “We are treated as if we are disposable; all of us should be valued for our work.”

Extensive research into the poultry industry by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2013 and Oxfam America in October of this year shows that:

Poultry workers earn low wages, with real value declining by almost 40 percent since the 1980s.

Poultry workers suffer extremely high rates of injury, especially repetitive strain injuries.  The rate of carpal tunnel syndrome for poultry workers is seven times higher than the national average.

Many poultry workers are afraid to speak up and advocate for better conditions. The industry has a history of hiring immigrant workers and others from vulnerable populations, using intimidation tactics to interfere with workplace rights. “Employees believe at any moment they can and will be fired,” says an attorney familiar with industry conditions. 

Just prior to the release of Oxfam’s October 2015 report, Lives on the Line, Tyson Foods, a major poultry processor, announced an initiative to raise wages. In addition, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced a new regional emphasis to investigate unsafe working conditions in the poultry processing industry. 

“Tyson has made a first start, but this process is by no means finished.  The company must do much more to meet the needs of its workers and live up to its core values,” said Rudy Lopez, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “The other major firms in the industry – Perdue, Sanderson and Pilgrim’s – haven’t budged an inch. We hope consumers take note of that.” 

“OSHA’s regional emphasis on poultry, with more comprehensive inspections in the workplaces where so many injuries take place, is a step in the right direction,” said Jessica Martinez, acting executive director of National COSH. “But it only covers 10 southern states, even though there are poultry plants all over the country. We need to focus on health and safety for all workers, no matter where they live and work.” 

“Consumers have already had a big impact on the poultry industry, by expressing a preference for less antibiotics and more free range birds,” said Hunter Ogletree of the Western North Carolina Workers’ Center. “When we gather with our families next week, let’s give thanks to the people who bring food to our tables – and raise our voices to raise industry standards.” 

Letters to Jim Perdue, Joe F. Sanderson and Bill Lovette can be found on the National COSH website, along with a PowerPoint presentation highlighting concerns about the poultry industry.

Consumers can sign an online petition calling for higher wages, improved safety and fair treatment in the poultry industry at the upper right “Take Action” tab on Oxfam America’s website here.


National COSH, based in San Diego, links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. More information at coshnetwork.org. 

Interfaith Worker Justice, based in Chicago, has been organizing, educating and advocating at the intersection of work and faith since 1996. There are 70 affiliated organizations in the United States. For more information, visit IWJ.org 

The mission of the Western North Carolina Workers’ Center is to develop leadership among workers through organizing and education to resolve issues of labor rights and promote fair working conditions in Western North Carolina. More information at wncworkerscenter.org

Asbestos Death Rate in New Hampshire Higher than National Average

  Asbestos-triggered diseases claim the lives of New Hampshire residents at a rate almost a third higher than the national average, according to a new state-by-state analysis by EWG Action Fund.

Washington, D.C. – Asbestos-triggered diseases claim the lives of New Hampshire residents at a rate almost a third higher than the national average, according to a new state-by-state analysis by EWG Action Fund.

Roughly 6.2 out of every 100,000 people in New Hampshire die each year from diseases caused by asbestos exposure, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and certain lung cancers, compared to the national average of 4.7 deaths per 100,000. All of the Granite State’s 10 counties have asbestos death rates above the national average. Coos County has the highest rate – more than 10 people per 100,000.

 From analysis of federal records of deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis and a formula developed by international cancer researchers for estimating lung cancer deaths from asbestos, EWG Action Fund estimates that 12,000 to 15,000 Americans die each year from exposure to the deadly fibers. From 1999 to 2013, EWG Action Fund estimates that more than 1,200 New Hampshire residents died from asbestos-related diseases.

Reasons for the high death rate in New Hampshire are uncertain. However, asbestos was once widely used in a number of the state’s leading industries, including shipbuilding and milling. Use has declined since 1980, when the dangers of asbestos became well known, but has not been eliminated.

“Many Americans mistakenly believe asbestos was banned decades ago,” said Alex Formuzis with EWG Action Fund. “It is still legal, still used in many consumer products, and still brings tragedy to thousands of victims and their families each year.”

That tragedy could be made by worse by legislation under consideration in Congress that would effectively delay and deny compensation to people from the various asbestos trusts.

 The legislation, the so-called FACT Act, with identical versions in the House (H.R. 526) and Senate (S. 357) would deplete the resources of the already-dwindling trust funds set aside to compensate asbestos victims. Adding insult to injury, the measure would also require public disclosure of victims’ personal information such as medical records and partial Social Security numbers, placing them at heightened risk of identity theft.

Officials of the asbestos trusts estimate that complying with the bill would require up to 20,000 additional hours per year at each trust – a burdensome and expensive mandate that would inevitably slow the processing of claims and distribution of payments.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations with major asbestos liability, including Koch Industries, Honeywell, 3M, Allstate and Nationwide are some of the biggest backers of the bill. The House is poised to vote on its version of the so-called FACT Act in the coming weeks.

“Each member of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation has a choice to make,” said Formuzis. “Will they stand with those in the state who are sick and dying from asbestos-caused disease, or with the very industries that poisoned them to begin with?”

 

  EWG Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that is a separate sister organization of the Environmental Working Group. The mission of EWG Action Fund is to protect health and the environment by educating the public and lobbying on a wide range of environmental issues. Donations to EWG Action Fund are not tax-deductible.

4 Innovative Ways To Improve Workplace Safety for Employees

By Liz Griggs, Chairman & CEO of WorkWell Prevention & Care

There are many benefits that come along with being a U.S. citizen, including the major benefit of workers having the right to pursue meaningful employment opportunities that will provide the financial security needed to support their families across numerous communities throughout the nation. However, some important key factors for workers as they choose employment opportunities is their ability to be able to enjoy a safe, healthy and productive workplace environment, once they land the job.

Workplace safety continues to be an ongoing challenge across a variety of industries, especially since there were 1,162,210 days-away-from-work cases related to injuries or illnesses reported in the private industry, state government, and local government sectors alone. With statistics like this, it’s no wonder that it’s vital for employers to continue to pursue the latest and best practices that will help them to improve the safety initiatives of their workplace.

Adding to these concerns is the fact that there is a major labor shortage, placing added pressure on organizations to provide a safe and hazard-free workplace in an environment in which there is more work than workers. For example, just in the trucking industry alone, there are about 35,000 jobs that could be filled tomorrow if there was enough labor supply to support these positions. Given, the labor shortage challenges, companies now have to be even more aggressive in deploying the latest solutions that will help them to keep their workers productive and injury-free.

The good news is….there are now forward-thinking organizations working hard to deliver these solutions, which are designed to significantly reduce workplace hazards, so that incidents don’t have to occur in the first place. With this in mind, below are the latest four ways to support workplace safety:

  • Onsite Ergonomics Solutions: Involves physical therapists before injuries occur (not just after occurrences), to work with employees, supervisors and management to understand workflow and all job task requirements. As a result, therapists are able to recommend optimum positions, ergonomic strategies and physical movements required at work stations to minimize musculoskeletal impact on the employee. 
  • On-the-Job Fitness Solutions: Engages employees in wellness tactics such as stretching, core muscle strengthening, endurance and coordination exercises that are specifically customized to improve areas of the body that are most engaged in performing work-related tasks.
  • Prompt Reporting:   Educates and engages employees to report any health concerns as soon as they notice any discomfort. Once these early notifications are reported to supervisors, they are able to immediately address the concern and respond with appropriate evaluations, diagnosis and/or medical care – before an injury occurs or becomes more severe.
  • Using A Managed Care Network of Imaging and Therapy Providers: If an incident occurs, it’s important for companies to already have a partner in place that can quickly deploy the most innovative providers of imaging solutions for thorough and accurate diagnosis. The partner should also be able to provide the best physical therapists who can quickly respond with the latest practices and best-in-class therapeutic solutions for workers. Thankfully, there are now organizations that have highly sophisticated managed care networks for imaging and physical therapy providers who are certified for ensuring the best possible care through return-to-work and stay-at-work programs.

Reducing workplace injuries is easier than you think, given the latest solutions now available. By utilizing these innovative best practices, coupled with other workplace safety compliances, organizations can better protect their employees and ensure a strong and healthy workforce for years to come.

Events Nationwide Honor Workers Who Lost Their Lives on the Job

New National Data Shows More Than 4,600 Deaths Due to Injuries;

Regional Reports on Workplace Deaths Released in

CA, MA, NY, TN, WY and Houston TX 

SAN DIEGO,CA – Today marks the beginning of Workers’ Memorial Week. Events across the United States and across the globe will honor workers who have lost their lives on the job, and continue the fight for safe working conditions.

“Today, we honor the dead and fight for the living,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. “We know that many of the injuries and illnesses that are killing American workers can be prevented. Employers must be held accountable when they fail to observe well-established well established safety practices.  And workers must have the education, training, resources and protection against retaliation they need to stand up for workplace safety.”

Resources to highlight the importance of Workers’ Memorial Week include:

Facts and figures:

 Reports:

National COSH:  2014 Preventable Deaths, documents tens of thousands of deaths due to workplaces injuries and illnesses; identified proven approaches to prevention; seven case studies of workers who died on the jobs, and specific recommendations for action by employers, OSHA and Congress.

California:  WORKSAFE, “Dying at Work in California: The Hidden Stories Behind the Numbers.”  Details the stories of temporary workers, transit workers, and food processing workers. Outlines the industries with highest rate of fatalities, profiles the cost of workplace injuries and illnesses, and summarizes steps health and safety agencies need to take to prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.

Massachussetts: MASSCOSH, “Dying for Work in Massachusetts: Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces.” Details, background and recommendations on the 48 Massachusetts workers who died on the job; the estimated 480 who died from occupational diseases; the estimated 1800 who were newly diagnosed with cancers caused by workplace exposure, and the 50,000 more who were seriously injured at work.

New York:  NYCOSH, Examining New York’s Workplace Deaths and the Construction Industry.” Focuses on the twenty-three workers who died in New York’s “deadliest industry” in 2013, and provides recommendations on the state and federal level to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Tennessee, Knox Area Workers Memorial Day Committee, “Tennessee Workers: Dying for a Job – A report on worker fatalities in Tennessee, 2012 & 2013.” Focuses on unnecessary deaths on public works projects, the high fatality rate among immigrant and Latino workers, and lack of enforcement.

Texas, Houston Area Workers Memorial Day Report, “Deaths at Houston Workplaces in 2013.”  Reports on 47 workplace deaths in the Houston area; profiles several individual cases, details local health and safety initiatives.

Wyoming:  WYCOSH, “Preventable Deaths: Safety & Health in Wyoming.” Provides 12 steps for the state and its private employers to improve worker and safety health, including, expanding Wyoming OSHA’s capacity to enforce its rules, jailing repeat violators, protecting workers from exposture to silica, and improving legal protections for whistle-blowers.

Workers’ Memorial Week Events

Nationwide listing, please see the National COSH Website here:

coshnetwork.org/workers-memorial-week-events

State-by-state events

California:  Events, today, 4-28 in in Concord, San Francisco, and San Jose

Connecticut: Events today, 4-8 in Groton, Hartford and New Britain

Illinois:  Events today, 4-28 in Alton, Bloomington, Chicago, Decatur, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield

Indiana:  Event today, 4-28, in South Bend

Maryland:  Event today, 4-28, in Cumberland

Massachusetts:  Event today, 4-28 in Boston

Michigan:  Event today, 4-28, in Detroit.

Nebraska:  Event today, 4-28, in Lincoln

New York:  Events today, 4-28 in Hauppauge, New York City, Syracuse and tomorrow, 4-29 in White Plains

North Dakota: Event today, 4-28, in Bismarck

Ohio:  Event today, 4-28 in Evendale

Oregon:  Events today, 4-28, in Portland and Salem

Tennessee:  Events today, 4-28, in Chattanooga and Nashville

Texas:  Event today, 4-28, in Houston

Washington:  Event tomorrow, 4-29, in Tumwater

West Virginia:  Event today, 4-28, in Wheeling

Wisconsin:  Events today 4-28, in LaCrosse, Madison and Milwaukee

Wyoming:  Event today, 4-28, in Cheyenne

103 years later: profits are STILL more important than people

Cartoon refers to the Triangle fire and depicts a woman weeping over a grave, and asks the reader: "How soon will they be all forgotten?"Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, when 146 garment workers were trapped behind locked doors.  Some of the young women burned to death; others died of smoke inhalation; still others jumped out of windows to certain death.

The good news is: this year even some mainstream media outlets are remembering the anniversary.

The bad news is: workers are still dying on the jobBangladeshChina … Pakistan … Nigeria… Italy

… even, still, here in the United States.  About 150 American workers die each day from workplace accidents or occupational illness.  (Yes, you did read that right: 150 each day.  But since they don’t die in the same place, from the same thing, these deaths don’t make the headlines.)

When will we stop thinking of profit margins as more important than people?

[Be warned: this video is graphic and may be disturbing]

When can we stop adding teachers’ names to this list?

Sunrise over Shiloh National Cemetery

To the family of Michael Landsberry… and to all teachers across the United States…

Our hearts are with you tonight.  We grieve with you.  We long for the day when our nation’s schools can truly be “the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow.”

It has been barely 10 months since Sandy Hook.  Since then, almost 28,000 Americans — including hundreds of children — have been killed by guns.

We are heartbroken that another teacher’s name has been added to that tally.

 

Duct Tape is No Substitute for Emergency Room: why workers need immigration reform

Immigrant Construction Carpenters (Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

(Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

Want to know why labor unions are pushing so hard to get immigration reform passed?

Get Eva Castillo and Liz Skidmore into a room together, and get them to start talking about undocumented workers here in New Hampshire.

Silver Needle and Golden Thread by CarbonNYC via Flickr2They’ll tell you about the undocumented construction worker who had his head sliced open – and his boss stitched it back together (needle and thread, no anesthesia, still on the worksite) and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who sliced his hand open with a power saw – and his boss patched him up with duct tape and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who was installing drywall at a prestigious private boarding school, fell from scaffolding and suffered a crush injury to his head.  This injured worker was taken to the hospital, in a coma.  When he was able to be discharged, the company owner’s wife picked him up, then left him alone at his apartment without medication.  After she left, he fell and stayed unconscious until the next day.  She came back to take him to the followup doctor’s appointment, where she acted as his translator and told the doctor that “everything was just fine”.  But everything wasn’t fine – and he couldn’t take care of himself, nevermind go back to work.  And if he couldn’t work, he couldn’t pay the rent on the company-owned apartment – and so the drywall company kicked him out.

That particular undocumented worker is back in his home country now: brain-injured, missing pieces of his skull and almost certainly not able to work again.  One more casualty of American’s economy.

Here in New Hampshire, 62% of undocumented workers do not know about workers’ compensationAlmost ten percent of those undocumented workers have been hurt on the job.

This Labor Day weekend, as you’re spending an extra day with family and friends, take just a few minutes to think about duct tape… worksite sutures… getting left completely alone after a life-threatening injury.

What a choice.  Go back to work – or go back to your home country.

Think about those workers, and you’ll understand why labor unions are pushing so hard for immigration reform.

——–

Eva Castillo is Coordinator for the New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees.  Liz Skidmore is a Business Manager for the New Hampshire Carpenters Local 118.  They routinely work with undocumented workers who would be otherwise voiceless and invisible.  Special thanks to them both, this Labor Day weekend.

 

Walmart and GAP Bangladesh Safety Alliance: Weak and Worthless

Joint Statement by Richard L. Trumka (AFL-CIO) and Joe Hansen (ChangetoWin)
July 10, 2013

Int Sol USA Tringle 25 03 11

Photo taken by Derek Blackadder in 2011.
Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment industry workers have died since this photo was taken.

The so-called Global Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, announced today by Walmart, Gap and the Bipartisan Policy Center, was developed without consultation with workers or their representatives and is yet another “voluntary” scheme with no meaningful enforcement mechanisms. Companies that sign onto the alliance but fail to meet a commitment face no adverse consequences beyond expulsion from the scheme. Instead, workers will continue to pay.

In stark contrast, more than 75 corporations from 15 countries, including the United States, have signed the binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety negotiated with Bangladeshi and international unions. The Accord has rules to make real improvements in the safety of garment workers. Workers, unions and worker rights organizations negotiated this agreement with employers and integrated worker safety efforts by governments and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The AFL-CIO and Change to Win, along with global unions IndustriAll and UNI and numerous organizations representing Bangladeshi workers, also endorse it. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win reject the Walmart/GAP plan as a way to avoid accountability, limit costs and silence workers and their representatives.

Rather than sign the binding Accord, Walmart and Gap are pushing a weak and worthless plan that avoids enforceable commitments. The Bipartisan Policy Center, which has clear financial and political connections to Walmart, is releasing the document, which is the product of a closed process and has been signed only by the same corporations that produced it.

The Accord departs from the broken system of voluntary corporate responsibility in supply chains that has so often failed to protect workers. It makes a clear commitment to worker safety and rights, and to transparency. It expresses values that most countries uphold.

The Accord has been endorsed by the United Nations, the ILO, the government of Bangladesh, both the parliament and commission of the European Union, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Members and leaders in both houses of the U.S. Congress have also endorsed the Accord.

In the last eight years, more than 1,800 Bangladeshi garment workers have been killed in preventable factory fires and building collapses while producing mostly for European and U.S. markets. This tragic loss of life requires more than a wink and a nod from two of the richest corporations in the world. It means taking responsibility for the safety of workers by entering into a legitimate, binding process that will save lives. Seventy-five brands have taken that important step. It is time for Walmart and GAP to join them, rather than trying to undermine those efforts and maintain a system that has a long and bloody record of failure.

———————

Watch this new video from the American Federation of Teachers:


Visit: go.aft.org/GAP to show your support for the AFT campaign to force the GAP to sign the international fire and building safety accord.

 

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