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Ironworkers And Stockton Steel Sets Monumental Safety Record

Stockton Steel Reaches Over 4 Million Work Hours Without Any Incidents 

Washington – Stockton Steel, a subsidiary of Herrick Corporation and one of the largest steel fabricators in the country, celebrates an impressive milestone. The company reached 4.5 million work hours, over 3000 days, free of lost-time incidents. The company marked the impressive milestone with a celebratory barbecue last Friday.

Stockton Steel’s Corporate Safety Manager Tom Davies credits the achievement to effectiveness of the company’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program and culture of safety. “We work hard with our workforce to create a culture of safety, where everyone looks out for themselves and others,” said Davies. “Our philosophy is one of continual improvement. Our safety commitment is backed by strong organizational policies, procedures and incentives to ensure all employees have a safe and healthy workplace. Our workforce is our greatest asset.”

Stockton Steel’s safety committee meets monthly and the company conducts weekly safety training and meetings as well as regular special training for overhead cranes, rigging, fall protection and forklift safety. Its Code of Safety Practices serves as a guide for high-risk work activities to prevent injuries.

Stockton Steel employs around 150 workers from various trades. The employees are encouraged to suggest safety improvements and take an active role in managing safety in the workplace. “We have empowered all employees with the ability to stop work when they recognize a safety issue and address it,” said CEO of Herrick Corporation Doug Griffin. “When you have employees, who feel free to point out hazards and prevent injuries, you know you have succeeded in creating a culture of safety.”

Stockton Steel is one of Iron Workers’ (IW) partner contractors. The IW is proud of its skilled, safety-conscious ironworkers who made this achievement possible. The ironworkers contributed over 3.5 million incident-free work hours to Stockton Steel’s outstanding accomplishment. Considering the highly hazardous nature of the ironworking trade, it is an exceptional contribution.

“The great relationship between the employer and workers and the safety committee comprised of representatives from both made it possible,” said IW District Representative Erik Schmidli.

Stockton Steel looks forward to growing its culture of safety and many more days free of incidents. 


The Herrick Corporation has established itself as one of the largest steel fabricators and erectors in the United States over the past 95 years.  

IMPACT is an ironworker-contractor partnership designed to provide a forum for ironworkers and their contractors to address mutual concerns and encourage reasonable balanced solutions. 

The Iron Workers (IW) represents 130,000 ironworkers in North America who work in construction on bridges; structural steel; ornamental, architectural, and miscellaneous metals; rebar; and in shops.

Millions Of Workers Are Still In Danger From Asbestos

  Mesothelioma Awareness Day Is September 26th

Nearly 20 million people will develop Mesothelioma in their lifetime due to exposure to asbestos

 

For over forty years workers’ health and safety groups have been fighting to ban asbestos in the United States and throughout the world. Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, has been proven to cause substantial harm, even death to workers. Only 30% of countries have outright banned asbestos even after it was proven to cause mesothelioma, a deadly disease that has a one year mortality rate of nearly 64%.

History of Asbestos

For many years, asbestos was used in building construction mainly for its fire retardant properties. Internal structures were coated with asbestos fibers making them almost fire proof. It was not until many years later that the dangers of using asbestos began to surface. Materials containing asbestos are easily damaged and causes the microscopic, fibers to become airborne. Inhaling or ingesting these fibers, cause serious damage to the body, eventually developing into cancer or other diseases.

Though the first official case of a worker’s death stemming from asbestos exposure was in 1924, it would not be until 1976 before Congress would take action by passing the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce asbestos exposure. In 1989, Congress went one step further and outright banned the use of asbestos. The ban was subsequently overturned, but asbestos use has been limited to less than 1% of the overall product. In spite of their good intentions, workers are still at risk from asbestos and an estimated 20 million people will develop mesothelioma within their lifetime.

Asbestos Exposure At Work

Though the United States has limited asbestos use, those in the construction industry are especially still at risk for exposure. Asbestos is still commonly used in cement, insulation, caulking, and roofing shingles. It’s estimated that over 1 million construction workers are exposed to asbestos-containing materials each year and according to the NIOSH work-related lung disease report, nearly 15% of all malignant mesothelioma deaths in 1999 were workers in the construction industry.

Shipyard workers are also at high risk for developing mesothelioma due to a high exposure to asbestos. During WWII as America was building warships as fast as they could, asbestos became a key ingredient, finding use in gaskets and within boiler components. Nearly 4 million individuals working in naval yards or on ships during World War II were exposed to asbestos. However, construction and shipyard workers are not the only ones with an elevated risk of developing mesothelioma. Others include firefighters, mechanics, plant workers, railroad workers, sheet metal workers, hairdressers and many more. More information on what industries pose a greater risk for mesothelioma and occupational asbestos exposure can be found here.

Recently, reconstruction was halted at the Schiller Power Plant in Portsmouth, NH when OSHA received an anonymous tip that workers exposure to asbestos and mercury. OSHA quickly responded to the Manaford Brothers Inc employee who tipped them off. Manaford was then required to “immediately investigate the allegations and make any necessary correction.” Unscrupulous employers do not care about the health and welfare of their employees, they only care about reducing their costs and increasing their profits. Therefore, it is up to us to ensure that our employers are following OSHA regulations for asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma

This year, September 26th has been designated as Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

On Mesothelioma Awareness Day, groups like the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) are working to get people involved in the discussion, hosting a Twitter Chat on September 26th to discuss asbestos and raise awareness of this rare disease. Join in and spread the word to help advocate for a ban on asbestos in the United States and around the world.

Please use the Twitter hashtag #ENDmeso 

National COSH Honors Fallen Worker And Wants To Know What DOL Nominee Will Do To Protect Workers

BALTIMORE –At a meeting with hundreds of health and safety activists just outside Baltimore, Maryland, The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) last night honored the family of Roendy Granillo, a construction worker who died from heat exhaustion during a heat wave in Dallas in July, 2015. 

Today, National COSH called on President-elect Trump’s expected nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, to address critical job safety issues as his nomination is reviewed by the U.S. Senate.

National COSH presented the Family Activist award to Roendy’s sister Jasmine and his father Gustavo during the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (#COSHCON16).  Following Roendy’s death, his family led a campaign to win a new ordinance guaranteeing the right to rest breaks for construction workers. The new law passed the Dallas City Council in December 2015, less than six months after Roendy died on the job.   

“My son is in heaven now,” Gustavo told attendees at #COSHCON16.  “I’m sure he is happy to know other workers will not have to suffer the same way he did.” 

More than 250 family members, union safety representatives, members of COSH groups and workers’ centers and occupational safety and health professionals gathered at #COSHCON16 over the past three days to discuss the need for better safety protections for U.S. workers. Each year, more than 4,500 U.S. workers die at work due to traumatic events, and up to 100,000 more lose their lives from occupational diseases caused by long-term workplace exposures. 

“President-elect Trump has identified protecting U.S. jobs as one of his top priorities,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH. “We believe safety on the job is also crucial, so that every worker can go home safely at the end of his or her shift. If Andrew Puzder is nominated as secretary of labor, it’s important that Americans hear about his plans to reduce workplaces illnesses, injuries and fatalities.”

Puzder is CEO of CKE Restaurants, a major fast-food employer. In March 2015, National COSH – in partnership with the Fight for $15 campaign –conducted a survey of fast food workers which revealed that 4 out of 5 fast food workers had suffered burns on the job during the previous 12 months. More than half of fast food employees suffered multiple burns.

“If Mr. Puzder is nominated as secretary of labor, we’d like to hear what he’s learned about workplace safety during his tenure in the fast food industry,” said National COSH co-director Jessica Martinez, who currently serves on the national advisory committee for U.S. OSHA.

 During this week’s three-day conference, activists worked on developing a long-term platform for workplace safety. Top priorities include enforcement of existing regulations, new protections to prevent known hazards, and additional research on causes of workplace injuries, illness and fatalities.

“We’ve heard a tremendous range of ideas this week from people who are fighting every day to improve conditions in their workplaces,” said Martinez. “We’re eager to share this information with the new secretary of labor and other nominees for federal office with responsibility for safety on the job. We’re also inspired by the courage of the Granillo family to take action in states, cities and local communities.” 

In addition to honoring the Granillo family last night, National COSH also recognized:

  • Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health: Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Lee Clark, Special Assistant to the President of Local 1549, District Council 37, AFSCME: Tony Mazzochi Award, named for the legendary health and safety activist who helped pass the original OSH Act.
  • Randy Rodriguez, Occupational Safety and Health Committee Chair, CWA Local 6222, Houston Texas: Health and Safety Trainer Award.
  • Nicole Marquez and Jora Trang, Worksafe: Social Justice Award.

Government Spending Bill Includes Big Wins For Worker’s Safety

A Win for Worker Safety: New Silica Rule Stays on Track in Budget Deal

Funding extended for 9-11 First Responders and Families
But OSHA and Mine Safety Budgets Are Frozen at 2014 Levels,
Despite Need for More Inspections and Enforcement 

NCOSH 300X250SAN DIEGO — “Millions of workers and their families can breath more safely now,” said Jessica Martinez, Acting Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “It’s great news that despite efforts by special interests, the new proposed federal budget will not interfere with OSHA’s decades-long effort to reduce worker exposure to deadly silica dust.”  

“OSHA’s new silica standard, scheduled for release in February 2016, is based on sound science and will require practical, economically feasible measures to control silica dust,” said Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant at National COSH. “As a result, workplaces will be safer in construction, foundries, hydraulic fracturing, quarrying, tunneling and other industries. The public will also benefit from reduced exposure to silica dust, a known human carcinogen.”

First responders to the 9-11 terrorist attacks also won an important victory, with a 75-year extension of the World Trade Center Health Program. “Those who rushed to help on that tragic day are still suffering health impacts and must have access to medical monitoring and treatment,” said Dooley. 

A budget freeze at federal worker safety agencies, however, will reduce capacity for enforcement of important safety laws. 

“It is unfortunate that budget authorization for OSHA and for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration will remain frozen at 2014 levels, which means cutbacks in critical safety personnel,” said Martinez. “Tens of thousands of workers die each year from traumatic injuries and long-term exposure to workplace hazards. We need more inspections and enforcement, not less.”


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.

Prosecution, Penalties and Prevention Needed to Address Annual Toll of 54,000 Workplace Deaths

Construction Workers Houston Tx (FLIKR Bill Jacobus)

Construction Workers Houston Tx (FLIKR Bill Jacobus)

Upcoming Trial of ex-Coal Company Exec a “Wake-Up Call”
Say Safety Experts; Tougher Penalties, Prevention Can Save Lives

LONGMEADOW, MA – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, responding to the annual toll of more than 50,000 on-the-job deaths in the United States, said today that an aggressive NCOSH 300X250program of prevention strategies in the workplace can reduce exposure to hazards and save lives in U.S. workplaces.

“54,000 deaths a year is way too many,” said National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel.  “We need tougher penalties. We need prosecutions for criminal violations.  And we need to listen to workers, and use proven strategies that protect all workers, reduce injuries and save lives.”

Marking the beginning of Workers Memorial Week, which will be observed around the country and around the globe from April 25th through May 2nd, National COSH released “Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths 2015.”

Key information from this year’s report:

  • 4,585 U.S. workers died on the job due to unsafe working conditions in 2013 the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • An estimated 50,000 workers die each year from long-term exposure to hazardous substances such as asbestos, silica and benzene.
  • Hispanic workers continue to be at greater risk than other groups, showing a nine percent increase in sudden workplace fatalities between 2012 and 2013.  During the same period, the incidence of fatalities decreased for African-American, Asian and white workers.
  • Proven prevention strategies are available for all the major categories which result in worker deaths, including transportation incidents, contacts with objects and equipment, falls to a lower level, workplace violence, exposure to harmful substances and environments and fires and explosions.
  • Making Work Safer:  Local COSH groups around the country are responding to fatalities and injuries on the job through advocacy, research, training and organizing; we highlight actions taken by organizations across the country during the past year.

The report also presents case studies of seven workers who died on the job in 2014, from different industries and different parts of the country, with each case illustrating how workplace hazards can be reduced and lives saved if proper safety protocols are followed.

During a media briefing to announce the release of today’s report, Celeste Monforton, DrPH, a public health consultant and professorial lecturer at George Washington University, discussed the upcoming trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. He has been indicted for conspiracy to violate mine safety laws, following the death of 29 miners at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine in 2010.

 “This trial will be a wake-up call for corporate America,” said Monforton. “If you cut corners, if you operate unsafely and people get hurt as a result, you can be held accountable in a court of law. I’m not sure many companies understood that before; I hope they understand it now.”

Three former Massey executives are currently serving prison terms after pleading guilty or being convicted on charges stemming from the Upper Big Branch disaster.

Mary Jane Collins of Sheridan Wyoming, who lost her 20-year old grandson Brett on a construction site 2012, talked about her efforts to increase penalties for safety violations in the state of Wyoming.  Brett Collins died when struck by an excavator while working in a trench. After penalties for Brett’s death were reduced to less than $3,000, family members were outraged.

 “My grandson died just a few days before he was going back to school,” said Collins. “We don’t want anyone else to suffer a loss like we have.  Our thinking is, if employers have to pay a real fine when something goes wrong, they’ll make sure to the job right in the first place.”

Wyoming legislators, working with the Collins family, have introduced a bill that would require a $50,000 fine for safety violations that lead to the death of a worker.

 “In 2015, there’s no reason for a worker to die in a trench or due to a fall from a building or any other workplace hazard,” said Peter Dooley, a project consultant for National COSH. He has investigated dozens of workplace fatalities during a decades-long career as a workplace safety specialist.  “I’ve seen every hazard you can think of in every kind of workplace.  I haven’t seen one yet that can’t be controlled or eliminated – if you establish health and safety programs with proven components such as worker participation.”

Workers Memorial Week will be observed this year in 80 local communities in 29 states with vigils, rallies, marches and other events to honor fallen workers and advocate for better safety protections. A listing of events is available on the National COSH website.

On April 28th, National COSH will release the U.S. Worker Fatality Database, the most comprehensive effort to date to gather specific information about workplace deaths.  It will cover some 1,500 fatalities, about one-third of all workers who died on the job in 2014, with an interactive map feature to show where the incidents took place.  The new database, linked from the National COSH website, will be available to the public, policy makers and news media.


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. Audio of today’s National COSH press call is available here.

Worker Safety Activists Honored At American Public Health Annual Meeting

Wyoming COSH Founder Dan Neal and SoCalCOSH Board Member Linda Delp
win Awards from American Public Health Association 

NCOSH 300X250NEW ORLEANS – Two veteran worker safety activists, Dan Neal and Linda Delp, were recognized today with prestigious awards at the American Public Health Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Neal, executive director of the Casper-based Equality State Policy Center and founder of the Wyoming Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (Wyoming COSH) was honored with the APHA Lorin Kerr award, which recognizes outstanding public policy advocacy.

Delp, director of the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program and a board member of the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH), was honored with the Alice Hamilton Award.

“Dan Neal and Linda Delp are exactly the kind of people who deserve these high professional honors,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “Both of them work tirelessly to advocate for workers’ rights and safer workplaces – and to build strong organizations like WYCOSH and SoCALCOSH, which ensure that workers have a voice in winning safer working conditions.”

Neal became executive director of the Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) in 2005 after a decades-long career as a reporter and editor at the Casper Star-Tribune. For many years, Wyoming has been one of the most dangerous states for workers, as measured by the rate of on-the-job fatalities. In 2013 Neal spearheaded creation of Wyoming COSH as a project of ESPC, and affiliation of the state group with National COSH.

In 2014, Neal authored a state-wide report featuring stories of worker fatalities to illustrate how Wyoming families are devastated by these deaths, and outlining concrete steps to improve the state’s dismal safety record. ESPC and Wyoming COSH are currently leading efforts to require stiffer penalties against employers for violations of workplace safety regulations.

“Dan’s leadership and coalition-building skills have made him an effective advocate,” said Marcia Shanor, the executive director of the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, who serves as the chair of the ESPC Board of Directors. “His vision and hard work have changed the political landscape in Wyoming.  Worker safety is now on the agenda and our elected leaders know it must be addressed. We’re thrilled that leading public health professionals are recognizing the impact of Dan’s work on the lives of Wyoming workers and families.”

Linda Delp has been a leader and innovator in the field of worker health and safety for nearly 30 years, beginning as Western Region Health and Safety Director for the Service Employees International Union. As director of UCLA’s Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program since 1990, she has created bilingual education and participatory research programs in both the U.S. and Mexico and developed union and labor-management health and safety initiatives in industries ranging from manufacturing to meatpacking to healthcare.

As a volunteer board member at SoCalCOSH, Linda has played a key role in strengthening the organization’s advocacy and education programs. An author of numerous peer-reviewed occupational health studies and a participant in academic, government and community advisory committees, Linda is also known for her ongoing efforts to mentor young scholars and activists seeking to enter the field of public health and worker safety.

“Linda is a high-energy, committed and pragmatic leader who inspires a collective vision and the ability to transform that vision into reality,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of National COSH, who is based in California and has worked closely with Delp. “She is devoted to expanding worker safety by identifying resources and offering opportunities to up and coming leaders of diverse backgrounds. Her dedication to create safer and healthier workplaces has been a major contribution to the labor movement.”

Wyoming COSH and SoCalCOSH are part of the COSH Network, which includes 20 groups across the United States advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. National COSH links the efforts of local coalitions and coordinates a national policy agenda on worker health and safety.

OSHA Releases New Resources To Protect Hospital Workers And Enhance Patient Safety

Screen Shot of New OSHA Site

Screen Shot of new OSHA/Hospitals site

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today launched a new educational Web resource, http://www.osha.gov/hospitals, which has extensive materials to help hospitals prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs, and implement safety and health management systems. The materials include fact books, self-assessments and best practice guides.

“These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “At the heart of these materials are the lessons from high-performing hospitals that have implemented best practices to reduce workplace injuries while also improving patient safety.”

“By fostering research to identify injury risk factors and safety interventions, steps can be taken to save costs and enhance service to the patients,” said Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The website’s materials on safe patient handling are designed to address the most common type of injuries hospital workers face, and hospitals can use these resources to protect their workers, improve patient safety and reduce costs.

Hospital workers face serious hazards, including: lifting and moving patients, workplace violence, slips and falls, exposure to chemicals and hazardous drugs, exposures to infectious diseases and needlesticks. In 2012, U.S. hospitals recorded 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses, almost 60,000 of which caused employees to miss work. Nationwide, workers’ compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion for hospitals.

Michaels was joined on a call announcing the resources by Howard, Dr. Lucian Leape, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, and Dr. Erin S. DuPree, chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

The Free-Keene “Robin Hoods” Appear In Court Over Harassment Charges

In May, the NH Labor News did a story about how Free-Staters in the Keene Area (Free-Keene) were causing problems with the local parking enforcement officers.

The Free-Staters say they are doing a good thing by putting a quarter into a meter so a stranger will avoid getting a parking ticket.  That would be all well and good, if that was all that was happening.

The parking enforcement officers and the City see this as a matter of harassment.  Officers say the Free-Staters follow them around, videotape them, surround them, intimidate them, and push them.

If you want more detailed information on this story, read this post first.

Yesterday the City of Keene took the Free-Staters to court and the Union Leader covered the story. The trial will most likely last at least another day. The case for the city is simple, “the city is only requesting a 30-foot buffer that would not bar the Robin Hooders, just the activities that the city says are harassing within that 30-foot zone.”

The attorney for the City wants to ensure that people understand what the real problem is.

“This is not about feeding the meters. This is about employees not having a hostile work environment,” said attorney Charles Bauer of Gallagher, Callahan and Gartrell law firm in Concord.

Parking enforcement officer Linda “Desruisseaux described how the group followed her around for an 8 hour shift, taking turns by tag teaming each other, waiting for her outside of a bathroom or waiting for her as she eats her lunch”.  Desruisseaux “testified today that that has had a physiological and emotional impact on her doing her job. …and also going to work. ‘I didn’t sign up for this.'”

Some of the alleged ‘Robin Hooders’ are also a part of the Keene Cop Block’ (http://keenecopblock.org).  After roaming their website, it seems to be exactly what the title implies. They go around video taping the Keene Police force doing their jobs, or worse: interfering with the police while they are doing their jobs.  They have posted the entire police department on their website so you can see all of their posts about a specific employee.

They say “transparency helps bring-about accountability. Individuals, not agencies, are responsible for actions.” So, because someone works for the town or the state they are responsible for everything the town does?  Is a parking enforcement officer responsible for setting the fine or the cost to park? No, they are just doing their jobs.

The officers have every right to do their jobs without harassment from these Free-Staters, who seem hell bent on destroying our system of government.  Hopefully, the court will rule in favor of the City and issue the injunction.

It is unfortunate that the strictest punishment for harassing someone to the point they quit their job is a personal space restraining order.

Let’s hope that after the court rules in favor of the city that this story ends there.

Most likely not, but there is always hope.

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.

 

Unions Prevail In Fight To Keep ‘Knives Off Planes’

One of the biggest reasons workers join unions is to improve the safety of their working conditions.  In some cases, the union stands up to oppose changes that would reduce the already safe conditions of their workers.  This was the case after the Department of Homeland Security changed their policy to allow knives on commercial flights.

This policy change brought outrage from many of the organizations who represent workers in the aviation industry.

On May 6, The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) was one of nine organizations representing over 400,000 aviation professionals, passengers and law enforcement officers that filed a legal petition with Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, urging them to rescind the policy change and keep the knife ban in place.

“I commend Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Pistole for listening to our concerns and having the wisdom to withdraw this proposal in light of the grave safety and security risks to our members at TSA, to the flying public and aviation employees,” Cox said.

After today’s announcement to rescind the policy  the Transportation Worker Union President James C. Little released this statement:

Three months ago, on March 5, and every day since, our union and others concerned about passenger safety urged that a policy shift that would allow sticks, knives and clubs on planes be reversed.  The leadership of TSA listened and they should be commended for taking the advice of flight attendants and other workers at commercial airlines charged with passenger safety.

This is a very important issue to The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who is the exclusive representative for the more than 45,000 Transportation Security Officers. TSO’s screen all commercial airline passengers, baggage and cargo.

AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. released this statement after today’s announcement:

“This decision is the right one for the safety and security of every Transportation Security Officer, airline passenger and aviation employee.”

“In addition to the lessons learned on 9/11 about the threat of terrorists armed with knives, our concern is for our members who are assaulted far too often by irate passengers. Keeping the knife ban will help keep those confrontations from escalating,” Cox said.  

 

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