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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.

After Continued Violence, UFCW Calls for National Summit on Justice

Public Letter in New York Times Calls on Leaders to Convene, Media to Broadcast a National Conversation

UFCW_logo.svgWashington, D.C. – With acts of violence against police officers and African Americans shaking our nation, today the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union placed an open letter in the New York Times calling for a national and public summit on justice in America.

The UFCW letter was submitted before the deaths of three police officers in Baton RougeSunday morning. It pleads with our nation’s elected officials, civil rights leaders, police and justice officials to jointly address the division and violence we are witnessing. It also asks our nation’s broadcast and cable networks to air this discussion in prime time to help unite the country.

“Even before yesterday’s horrific killings, our hope was that this open letter would encourage Americans to come together and face what divides us,” said Marc Perrone, International President for the UFCW and co-chair of the AFL-CIO Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice. “For the sake of all our children, we must believe in a better America. We cannot continue to allow hate to determine who we are and who we can be.”

Excerpts from the ad are below:

“As a diverse union family with over 1.3 million members, such a national summit would give our members and all Americans the chance to hear directly from our national and state elected leaders, civil rights officials, Black Lives Matter movement leaders, local and state police officials, as well as representatives from labor, media, and corporate America.

“It would provide opportunity to listen to difficult truths, to hear the sincerity of fears and concerns so many feel, and to understand the changes that we must make.

“To help focus our nation’s awareness, we believe that all our nation’s major cable and broadcast channels should all agree to televise this national summit in prime time. By simulcasting this summit across all major networks, the call for change would echo across this nation like never before.”

Read the full letter here.

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UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about the UFCW www.ufcw.org

Disappointment Over SCOTUS Immigration Tie Highlights Call For Senate To “Do Your Job”

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

Supreme Court of the US (Image Mark Fischer Flickr)

The Supreme Court splits on DACA and DAPA, highlighting the urgent need to confirm a ninth Supreme Court Justice.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued a 4-4 decision in United States v. Texas, the case challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). This means that the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding the preliminary injunction against these initiatives will stand.

This ruling does not impact the original DACA program launched in 2012.

“One of the reasons why America is such a diverse and inclusive nation is because we’re a nation of immigrants,” said President Barack Obama. “Our Founders conceived of this country as a refuge for the world. And for more than two centuries, welcoming wave after wave of immigrants has kept us youthful and dynamic and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character, and it has made us stronger.”

“But for more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be,” Obama added.

Confirming that this ruled does not affect the original DACA program and in an attempt to ease people’s minds, Obama continued:

“I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed today, but it is important to understand what today means. The deferred action policy that has been in place for the last four years is not affected by this ruling. Enforcement priorities developed by my administration are not affected by this ruling. This means that the people who might have benefitted from the expanded deferred action policies — long-term residents raising children who are Americans or legal residents — they will remain low priorities for enforcement. As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited immigration enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

“The decision is a huge disappointment for immigrant families and their defenders. It’s bad for American communities, workers and the economy,” wrote the Immigration Policy Council. “We will continue to explore all available legal avenues and will urge the government to do the same. Ultimately, the nation needs a permanent solution to our outdated immigration system, and that must come from Congress. The fight will continue.”

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a setback for all those who have fought for more humane and rational enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “While we are deeply disappointed by the Court’s failure to reach a decision, we will redouble our organizing efforts to defeat the obstructionist, anti-immigrant forces behind this lawsuit and ensure that all working people can assert their rights on the job and in the community without fear of deportation.”

“This decision will further motivate a resilient community that is a vibrant and vital part of our labor movement. We continue to urge the Administration to use its discretion to protect those courageous immigrant workers who are exercising their workplace and civil rights,” added Trumka.

Locally, elected leaders and advocates spoke out against this decision.

“Today’s SCOTUS un-decision comes as a hard blow to the millions of immigrants that could have benefited from DAPA and the extension of DACA,” said Eva Castillo, Program Director for the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “We will not stand still, we will continue to push back against anti-immigrant politicians and what they represent.”

“In November our vote will speak loudly against all candidates that stand for hatred, xenophobia and racism. That is our pledge,” Castillo added.

In 2015, Senator Shaheen joined more than 30 Senators and 180 Members of the House of Representatives, in an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court before the case went to trial.

“Families shouldn’t live in fear that at a moment’s notice a father, mother or child could be separated from their loved ones,” said Shaheen. “The Supreme Court’s order today is extremely disappointing and demonstrates why having only eight justices on our nation’s highest court hurts our country.”

“This order ignores the clear intent of Congress to grant the executive branch the discretion to establish and enforce immigration policy. Our country is at its strongest when we are open, inclusive and embrace all people. DAPA and expanded DACA would be good for families, our communities, and our economy and I am deeply disappointed that partisan opposition has prevented these initiatives from going forward.”

“It’s now up to us in Congress to work together to advance immigration policies that will keep families together and strengthen our nation,” Shaheen concluded.

Action at Ayotte Do your Job 2

This split decision only further highlights the need for the US Senate to hold confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court Justice.

President Obama nominated Merrick Garland 100 days ago and some Senators, including New Hampshire’s own Kelly Ayotte, are refusing to hold confirmation hearings on Garland.

“Kelly Ayotte’s refusal to do her job has now hit the 100 day mark as she keeps a Supreme Court seat open for Donald Trump to fill with an anti-choice justice,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “100 days later, New Hampshire voters still want Ayotte to do her job and give the President’s nominee fair consideration.”

“Granite Staters have had enough of Kelly Ayotte’s political obstruction and reckless support for a misogynist presidential candidate who would appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the clock on women’s rights,” Miller added.

“Today’s decision is a shattering blow to millions of families and a painfully clear illustration of why we need a fully staffed Supreme Court in order to address the most important issues we face as a country,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of the People for the American Way. “Without issuing a real opinion or providing any reasoning, our hobbled Supreme Court has allowed a single district court judge to implement a twisted ruling that will have a profound impact on the lives of families all across the country. The Court has provided no guidance to lower courts while simultaneously impacting millions of people’s lives.”

The People for the American Way have been leading the charge for the Senate to confirm a new Justice. Baker continued by blasting Ayotte for failing to uphold her Constitutional duty to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice.

“This isn’t how our system of justice is supposed to work. Yet Republicans including Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who are eager to force their ideology into law by any means necessary, have refused to perform their most basic responsibilities and give fair consideration to a pending Supreme Court nominee. This is the result of a broken system of government, and make no mistake, Republicans have broken it on purpose.”

Governor Maggie Hassan, who is running against Ayotte, highlighted Ayotte’s failure to do her job and confirm a new Justice.

“Earlier this week, the American Bar Association affirmed what members of both parties have said to be true: Judge Merrick Garland is exceptionally qualified to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States and his nomination deserves fair consideration,” said Governor Maggie Hassan. “Unfortunately, Senator Kelly Ayotte continues to side with her party leadership in obstructing the Supreme Court confirmation process – despite the fact that a majority of Granite Staters support considering Garland’s confirmation now.”

“As this irresponsible blockade of the Supreme Court confirmation process marks 100 days, I call on Senator Ayotte to drop the partisan politics, do her job and stop putting her political party before justice for Granite Staters,” Hassan concluded.

The Supreme Court has shown twice now that they cannot function properly with only eight Justices. The Senate must do their Constitutional duty and confirm a new Justice.

AFL-CIO and Gamaliel Network Finalizing Formal Partnership

Gamaliel Network

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO and the Gamaliel Network solidified their dedication to empowering working people to fight for equality by publicly announcing they will enter into a formal partnership agreement.

The Gamaliel Network was founded in 1986 to train community and faith leaders to build political power and create organizations that unite people of diverse faiths and races. Our mission is to empower ordinary people to effectively participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. 

The agreement is an important step between the interfaith national community organizing network and the country’s largest labor union federation. It will advance the advocacy and organizing work the groups already do to ensure diverse communities have the opportunity to successfully participate in the political, environmental, social and economic decisions affecting their lives. The official agreement is expected to be signed in the next couple months. 

“The AFL-CIO is dedicated to working with and empowering communities of faith and people of color,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. “Working with such a devoted national faith network will ensure we are able to help more people become involved in various areas that impact their economic stability. Collective action is the key to improving workplaces, communities and our national economy and we have the power to change the economic rules.”

“Government must be restored into the hands of workers and not the social elite, and racism must be dismantled as excellence and equity are pursued,” said Gamaliel Network Chair Rev. John C. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D. “Clergy must not allow themselves to be muted and locked out of the political conversation, and those who do speak must speak without an evangelical bias.

The AFL-CIO is a union federation with 56 unions representing 12.5 million working men and women. We work to ensure that all people who work receive the rewards of their work—decent paychecks and benefits, safe jobs, respect and fair treatment.

Boeing’s Shameful Attacks On Its South Carolina Employees’ Rights Will Not Go Unchallenged

Boeing Dreamliner

Washington, DC – Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, and Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, issue this statement in response to Boeing’s latest tactics aimed at squashing attempts by its employees in South Carolina to select the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers as their collective bargaining representative. 

“Boeing’s sinister claims that the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is somehow jeopardizing aerospace jobs as it opposes a job-killing flag-of-convenience airline is both factually inaccurate and a cynical attempt by the company to deny its employees in South Carolina the benefits of collective bargaining.

“The IAM and the entire labor movement is opposing Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) entry into the U.S. market because the airline’s application for a permit before the U.S. Department of Transportation violates our air services trade agreement with the European Union (EU). By headquartering NAI in Ireland instead of Norway, the company is attempting to avoid strong labor laws and current collective bargaining obligations in its home country. NAI’s operating plan centers on hiring Asian flight crews under Singaporean or Thai employment contracts. The fact that this scheme will undermine labor standards and collective bargaining rights in violation of Article 17 bis of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement is the basis for our opposition to the company’s application.

“If NAI’s application is approved, the carrier will gain an unfair competitive advantage over airlines that play by the rules – most of which are significant and longstanding Boeing customers. NAI’s parent company, Norwegian Air Shuttle, already flies to the U.S., using Boeing aircraft, and can continue to do so and expand flights under its existing operating authority. NAI’s application has absolutely nothing to do with buying more Boeing airplanes but has everything to do with setting up a corporate shell to eviscerate labor standards, undercut fair competition and destroy middle-class U.S. airline jobs.

“Boeing’s attack on the IAM is especially outrageous given that the union has led the way in advocating for policies that have expanded Boeing’s reach into new markets and created jobs. The Export-Import Bank, which Boeing has said is vital and essential to its future, would be shuttered if not for the efforts of the IAM and the broader labor movement.

“Finally, the NAI battle has been going on for well over two years. If this application was so important to Boeing, why did it wait until now to take a public position? Clearly these public relations tactics are about dissuading South Carolina workers from joining the IAM and demanding better wages, benefits, job protections and working conditions. These shameful tactics should be dismissed as more anti-union saber-rattling by this corporate giant.”

AFL-CIO Votes to Endorse Hillary Clinton for President

(Washington, DC) – The General Board of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO voted today to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. The endorsement reflects a comprehensive, democratic process initiated a year ago to capture the interests of the working people the federation represents.

“Hillary Clinton is a proven leader who shares our values,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Throughout the campaign, she has demonstrated a strong commitment to the issues that matter to working people, and our members have taken notice. The activism of working people has already been a major force in this election and is now poised to elect Hillary Clinton and move America forward.”

Lee Saunders, AFSCME President and Chair of the AFL-CIO Political Committee said, “This election offers a stark choice between an unstoppable champion for working families and an unstable charlatan who made his fortune scamming them. Working people know that Hillary Clinton has the temperament and experience to unite all Americans in our fight to increase incomes at home and extinguish threats abroad.”

Beginning immediately, the AFL-CIO will put in motion its ground campaign to elect Hillary Clinton and union endorsed candidates across the country. The federation has been laying the groundwork for this campaign for months, and Trumka pledged that “we will run a sophisticated, targeted ground campaign. And with the dire consequences Donald Trump poses for America’s working families, it has to be.”

Trumka further noted that, “Senator Bernie Sanders has brought an important voice to this election, and has elevated critical issues and strengthened the foundation of our movement. His impact on American politics cannot be overstated.”

“We are ready to fight hard to restore faith in America and improve the lives of all working people,” said Trumka. “Hillary Clinton has proven herself as a champion of the labor movement and we will be the driving force to elect her President of the United States.”

Upon receiving the endorsement, Clinton released the following statement:

“I am honored to have earned the endorsement of the AFL-CIO.

“The AFL-CIO is one of America’s most vital organizations, having been on the front lines of the fight for good-paying jobs and careers with benefits and dignity for more than a century. AFL-CIO member unions contribute to virtually every sector of our economy and are on the job in every corner of our country—building our infrastructure, teaching our children, sowing our fields, operating our ports, and entertaining us on stage and screen.

“Members of the AFL-CIO know, as I do, that we are stronger together. We are stronger when we are investing in our country and our future. As President, I will make the biggest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System—because to build a 21st century economy, we need 21st century roads, ports, transit systems, water systems, and electric grids. We will fight for good schools in every ZIP code—because all of our children deserve a chance to live up to their God-given potential. And we will fight to raise the federal minimum wage back to the highest it’s ever been, to finally join all other industrial nations in guaranteeing paid family leave for workers, and at last secure equal pay for women.

“And we know we are stronger when we have each other’s backs. Workers’ rights to organize, to bargain collectively, to be safe on the job, and to retire with dignity and security after years of hard work are fundamental to our country and to our economy. In too many statehouses across the country—and even in the halls of Congress—these rights are under concerted attack by Republicans and big corporations who have forgotten that a strong economy requires a strong workforce. As President, I will stand proudly with the AFL-CIO and fight to protect the rights and values that helped build the mighty American middle class. Workers will always have a seat at the table and a champion in the White House—because when unions are strong, workers are strong, and when workers are strong, America is strong.”

The US International Trade Commission Shows The TPP Is Bad News For Working Families

A New Report From The US International Trade Commission
Shows The TPP Is Not Worth Passing 

ITC-International-Trade-Commission-logoYesterday, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) released their findings on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). To nobody’s surprise the results are not good.

The TPP would not deliver the economic benefits promised by the U.S. Trade Representative. Instead, the report shows that the deal would be disastrous, increasing the U.S. trade deficit by over $21 billion per year and harming employment in key industries.

Basically they found that miniscule gains would be made in most of the sectors of the economy. By miniscule I mean that after 15 years the TPP would increase our GDP by a whopping 0.15%.

Most alarmingly, the ITC report projects that the TPP would increase the U.S. trade deficit in both manufacturing and the services sector. According to the report, once fully implemented, the TPP would decrease manufacturing output by over $11 billion per year and would decrease U.S. employment in manufacturing by 0.2%.  The report also highlights concerns that the TPP would put call center jobs at particular risk of being offshored.

The weak economic projections in the ITC report are especially notable given that ITC’s track record is one of being overly optimistic about the effects of free trade deals on American workers and our economy.

These results are not surprising to many of the labor groups who have been against this multi-national trade agreement since it was announced.

“This ITC report is so damaging that any reasonable observer would have to wonder why the Administration or Congress would spend even one more day trying to turn this disastrous proposal into a reality,” said Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “Even though it’s based on unrealistic assumptions, the report could not even produce a positive result for U.S. manufacturing and U.S. workers.”

“One of many shockers is just how meager the purported benefits of the TPP are. A mere .15% of GDP growth over 15 years is laughably small—especially in comparison to what we’re being asked to give up in exchange for locking in a bonanza of rights and privileges for global corporations,” added Trumka.

“Even though the report fails to account for currency manipulation, wage suppression and the negative impacts of uninspected food imports and higher drug costs, the study still projects the TPP will cost manufacturing jobs and exacerbate our trade deficit,” Trumka concluded.

“This report validates that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not worth passing,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “This report, as mandated by law, indicates the TPP will produce almost no benefits, but inflict real harm on so many workers.”

Trumka and the AFL-CIO are not alone in their condemnation of this report. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers highlights that includes many of the same provisions, currently in our international trade agreements, that fail to protect basic labor rights.

“The ITC, which historically has overestimated the benefits of trade agreements, predicts that the TPP will increase our nation’s trade deficit in manufacturing. This means that the corporate driven, secretly negotiated TPP will lead to the export of good paying manufacturing jobs to countries like Vietnam that lack basic human rights,” said International President Robert Martinez, Jr., of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). “For ordinary Americans struggling to get by this will result in more unemployment and continued downward pressure on wages and benefits.”

“The IAM has repeatedly called for the inclusion in the TPP of the International Labor Organization Conventions, which explicitly define basic labor rights. Unfortunately, the TPP labor chapter contains the same ineffectual provisions as in other U.S. trade agreements and fails to provide effective mechanisms to deal with countries lacking fundamental labor rights, such as Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Mexico. That Malaysia, a country cited for human trafficking while focused on rapidly developing its aerospace industry, would be include in the TPP repudiates any notion that the agreement sets a new standard for international labor rights.”

“While the ITC has found that the TPP might increase U.S. GDP by a meager 0.15 percent by 2032, this is of little solace to the working families that will be devastated by the agreement’s numerous flaws. The IAM strongly urges Congress to reject the TPP and focus on a trade policy that benefits America’s working families.”

“The ITC has a long history of being overly optimistic about our trade deals. Yet, even the ITC’s rosy projection paints a picture of the TPP that would be bad for American workers,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director of the Communications Workers of America (CWA).  “Across the electorate and throughout the country, the public is coming out strongly against the TPP and for good reason. The TPP was based on a trade model that has led to lost manufacturing jobs, lower wages, and increased trade deficits. It’s no surprise that those outcomes are what the TPP will deliver.”

The TPP will be hot button issues during this coming election. We have already seen this in the Presidential primary process. People all across the country are challenging candidates to stand up in opposition to this disastrous trade deal now.

“The American public has made clear its overwhelming opposition to the TPP and the approach to trade it embodies, and now this report makes it even more clear why lawmakers of both parties should stand with the American people and loudly oppose the TPP,” Larson stated.

“This year voters across the country are clearly making trade an issue. Most Washington policymakers and politicians are out of touch with the lives of average Americans. The American public is sick and tired of economists projecting fantasies of prosperity for them when it’s primarily multinational corporations that benefit. On Main Street and in workplaces all across America, working Americans know firsthand the consequences of what economists experience in theory,” added Gerard of the USW.

“But in the end, this may be the most damning government report ever submitted for a trade agreement. It is clear that the TPP will be DOA if Congress ever decides to bring it up,” Gerard stated.

This report clearly shows that the drawbacks to the TPP far out weight the meager benefits promised the US Trade Representative and the White House.

Under New OSHA Rule, OSHA Will Post Injury And Illness Data From Employers, On Agency’s Website

OSHA-logo

New Rule Takes Effect On Aug. 10th 2016

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued a final rule to modernize injury data collection to better inform workers, employers, the public and OSHA about workplace hazards. With this new rule, OSHA is applying the insights of behavioral economics to improve workplace safety and prevent injuries and illnesses.

OSHA requires many employers to keep a record* of injuries and illnesses to help these employers and their employees identify hazards, fix problems and prevent additional injuries and illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than three million workers suffer a workplace injury or illness every year. Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses at individual employers is made public or available to OSHA. Under the new rule, employers in high-hazard industries will send OSHA injury and illness data that the employers are already required to collect, for posting on the agency’s website.

Just as public disclosure of their kitchens’ sanitary conditions encourages restaurant owners to improve food safety, OSHA expects that public disclosure of work injury data will encourage employers to increase their efforts to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

“Since high injury rates are a sign of poor management, no employer wants to be seen publicly as operating a dangerous workplace,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Our new reporting requirements will ‘nudge’ employers to prevent worker injuries and illnesses to demonstrate to investors, job seekers, customers and the public that they operate safe and well-managed facilities. Access to injury data will also help OSHA better target our compliance assistance and enforcement resources at establishments where workers are at greatest risk, and enable ‘big data’ researchers to apply their skills to making workplaces safer.”

After OSHA announced the rule, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, released the following statement:

Until now, most workplace injury records have only been available at the workplace, making it impossible to know which employers have bad or good injury records.  Employers in high hazard industries will now have to electronically submit a summary of their firms’ injuries and illnesses to OSHA each year, and large employers will have to submit more detailed injury and illness information.  OSHA, workers and the public will have access to this information.

This new transparency will assist OSHA and workers in identifying hazardous workplaces. In addition, employers will be able to compare their records with other employers in their industry and public health officials and researchers will be able to identify emerging trends. Most importantly, this data will help prevent future injuries, illnesses and deaths.

We are pleased that the new rules also include important protections to ensure that workers can report injuries without fear of retaliation. For far too long, in an effort to keep reported injury rates low, employers have retaliated against workers for reporting injuries, disciplining them for every injury or creating barriers to reporting. Now these violations will be subject to citations and penalties.  With these stronger protections, workers will be more willing to report injuries, which will help with overall prevention.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s Acting Executive Director, Jessica Martinez, was also pleased to hear of the rule change stating, “Accurate and timely reporting of on-the-job injuries and illnesses is one of the best tools we have to learn how to make workplaces safer.” 

Martinez continued, “The new OSHA recordkeeping rule, announced today in the Federal Register, is an important step towards transparency. By requiring electronic submissions every quarter and making the data public, this common-sense regulation will help us learn more about how workers are hurt and become sick on the job. 

“The more we know, the more we can do to prevent injuries and illnesses from happening in the first place, with effective safety programs centered on worker participation,” Martinez concluded. 

The availability of this data will enable prospective employees to identify workplaces where their risk of injury is lowest; as a result, employers competing to hire the best workers will make injury prevention a higher priority. Access to this data will also enable employers to benchmark their safety and health performance against industry leaders, to improve their own safety programs.

Using data collected under the new rule, OSHA will create the largest publicly available data set on work injuries and illnesses, enabling researchers to better study injury causation, identify new workplace safety hazards before they become widespread and evaluate the effectiveness of injury and illness prevention activities. OSHA will remove all personally identifiable information associated with the data before it is publicly accessible.

To ensure that the injury data on OSHA logs are accurate and complete, the final rule also promotes an employee’s right to report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation, and clarifies that an employer must have a reasonable procedure for reporting work-related injuries that does not discourage employees from reporting. This aspect of the rule targets employer programs and policies that, while nominally promoting safety, have the effect of discouraging workers from reporting injuries and, in turn leading to incomplete or inaccurate records of workplace hazards.

The new requirements take effect Aug. 10, 2016, with phased in data submissions beginning in 2017.

Global Labor Organizations Strategize to Counter Rise of Right-Wing Populism

AFL-CIO, Working America, and Freidrich Ebert Stiftung convene representatives from ten countries for trans-Atlantic discussion on the global rise of right-wing populism

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the first convening of its kind, global labor leaders from Europe, the U.S. and Canada met today in Washington, D.C. to discuss the international rise of right-wing populist movements and share best practices for engaging working people against the threat of an anti-worker Right agenda.

Hosted by the AFL-CIO, Working America and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the day-long forum – “Labor, Politics and the Threat from the Right: A Trans-Atlantic Discussion” – brought together union leaders, academics and activists to discuss the role of organized labor in countering the global rise of the radical Right and ensuring that workers’ voices are heard through a progressive counter-narrative. Representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the U.K., and the U.S. convened to discuss innovative strategies for countering the appeal of right-wing rhetoric amongst the global working class.

“Too many politicians in the U.S. and Europe are exploiting our differences and inciting hate and division. Income inequality is a global problem that should unite all leaders; it should not give rise to right wing extremism and building walls. We must come together to focus on common issues like raising wages and creating good jobs.  Political tactics that scapegoat hardworking immigrants and refugees only serve to pit workers against one another, while ignoring the corporate excess that created these problems,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“Working people everywhere are standing up against this hateful discourse to demand policy proposals that will empower and unite working families,” added Trumka.

Even before Donald Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee, his candidacy was legitimizing a hard-right agenda among working-class voters, similar to the reemergence of right-wing political parties throughout Europe like France’s National Front or the UK Independence Party. International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow, European Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Luca Visentini and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler were among the delegation of leaders gathered to better understand the growing threat of hard-right populist movements and how their rhetoric exploits communities struggling with austerity, economic stagnation, lack of jobs and mass migration.

“Trust in government is broken in too many countries around the world where one in two working families have lost their jobs or have reduced working hours,” said Burrow. “The fear and desperation of working people has been created by a global economic model that is based on corporate greed is simply inequality by design.

“Conversations in communities and workplaces on issues of critical concern for workers and their families are central to building workplace democracies which underpin our economy and society and counter the anxiety for a secure future,” Burrow added.

“In the current political climate, global labor leaders recognize the need to share our unique experiences and effective ways to talk with our members and neighbors about working family issues,” said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum. “Authentic engagement — a trusted messenger offering real solutions and a viable path to change — is a critical, scalable tactic to use against the divisive right-wing politics of scapegoating.”

New AFL-CIO Trade Video Warns That TPP Would Double Down on NAFTA’s Economic Devastation

“We can’t have another NAFTA. There’s too much at risk. It’s too important. What happens if TPP passes? There will be another generation of people that can’t find work.”

(Washington, DC) – Today, the AFL-CIO released a video showing first-hand the devastating economic impact the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could have on communities across the country.

Last week United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard testified at a USTR hearing examining overcapacity in the global steel market and its impact on U.S. steelmakers. There is evidence that foreign governments are subsidizing cheap steel and selling it in the U.S. at unfairly low prices. Countries are able to dump their cheap steel in U.S. markets because they are undervaluing their currency when setting prices.

“Currency manipulation is at the heart of this issue, and the passage of the TPP – which doesn’t address this global problem – could kill American manufacturing for good,” said Gerard. Like NAFTA, it offers no protection for American manufacturing or American workers. U.S. trade policy has not worked for working people or our communities which has led to broad opposition to the TPP. It must be defeated.”

“We know the TPP is a job killer.” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Our trade agreements should help to create good jobs in America, and enable regular working people to succeed by working hard to get ahead. The TPP fails this goal miserably.”

“I’ve seen too many people have their lives destroyed because the jobs went away,” said Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Council Member Dewitt Walton. “We can’t have another NAFTA. There’s too much at risk. It’s too important. What happens if TPP passes? There will be another generation of people that can’t find work.”

Allegheny County which is featured in the video is one of hundreds of local and state governments that have passed or introduced resolutions opposing TPP.

This video is the second in a series examining the real human impact of trade agreements like the TPP. Watch the first video on how the TPP could put the lives of cancer patients in danger.

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