Model Contract Language
Wobbly troubador Utah Phillips passed away on May 23 at the age of 73. Listen to a Utah story here.
After an 18 month investigation the Charlotte Observer (NC) is running an extraordinary series on injuries in the chicken processing industry.
The paper says "Slack oversight and slack rules have made it easy for a dangerous industry to exploit illegal workers, underreport injuries and manipulate a regulatory system that essentially lets companies police themselves."
Michigan AFL-CIO resource site on the Chamber of Commerce attempt to turn Michigan into an anti-union state.
Worker and childhood exposure to chemicals costs California $2.6 billion a year, a Universiy of California report says.
The report contends that federal and state laws do not adequately protect or inform the public about chemical dangers. It also found that current laws and policies do not promote "public and private investment in green chemistry research, development, education, and technical assistance."
Check out the full report.
Dave Foster gave up his job as a Steelworker District Director to run the Blue-Green Alliance, a joint project of the Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. SEMCOSH interviewed Foster.
Between 1992 and 2003 workplace injury and illness statistics declined by 35.8%. The Labor Department has interpreted these numbers as showing the US workplace is getting safer. A study in the July issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine disputes that conclusion.
The study notes that two major changes were made to OSHA's recordkeeping rule in the 92-03 period. In 1995 the agency began collecting injury and illness logs by mail and email. Previously the agency was permitted to collect information during onsite reviews. A second change in 2002 made fewer illness and injuries recordable.
Before the rule changes there was an annual 0.5% (one half of one percent) improvement. The first change resulted in an "improvement" of 3.1% and the second boosted the rate of change to 8.3%. By deducting the baseline improvement rate of 0.5% the study found that 83% of the claimed improvements in safety were not an improvement in safety. Instead 2,000,000 injuries and illnesses were simply not counted.
If the boss doesn't record the injury… does that mean you're not really hurt?
Scientists from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have found that extra breaks reduce discomfort and eyestrain for data entry workers without hurting productivity.
The scientists followed 51 data entry workers for eight weeks. Half got the standard two a day 15 minute breaks. The others had four extra 5 minute breaks a day. The second group were more rested, reported less strain, and got more work done in twenty minutes less time.
But then you knew that, didn't you?
Billy McIntosh's hand was crushed while working in 2004. His employer, Interstate Mechanical Contractors, sought to use state law to automatically deny workers compensation because THC was found in McIntosh's blood; but the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a positive test for marijuana does not automatically disqualify a workers comp claimant.
Under Tennessee's drug free workplace law employers can compel drug screening for injured workers. A worker testing positive for drug or alcohol use is presumed to be at fault for the injury unless he or she can show intoxication wasn't the cause of the injury. Interstate ordered a drug screen at the hospital while McIntosh was being treated for the hand injury. The test came back positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. McIntosh admitted to having smoked marijuana twice in the week before the injury.
The Tennessee court chose to hear the case because it had "never decided a case involving the statutory presumption imposed by the Drug-Free Workplace Act." The court decided that the presumption of fault is not absolute and that McIntosh defeated it.
Billy McIntosh, 51 when the injury occurred, had over thirty years experience in his trade and was used by Interstate to train new workers on the company's equipment. McIntosh was training Nick Walker, a new worker, to operate a roller machine, the second most dangerous piece of equipment at the company. McIntosh reached over the roller machine to set a piece of sheet metal when Walker turned on the rollers which immediately grabbed McIntosh's hand and pulled it into the rollers. Walker was too stunned by McIntosh's screams to turn off the machine. McIntosh disengaged the machine and reversed the rollers releasing his hand and sparing his arm from being crushed.
A medical toxicologist testified by deposition that to a reasonable degree of certainty the THC in McIntosh's system would have impaired his reaction time. Testimony, however, showed a hand on the rollers would immediately be pulled in. The court wrote "McIntosh's quick reaction saved his arm." The decision is here.
Fetuses are being exposed to toxic chemicals while in the womb, says a recent study of new born babies. An analysis of nearly 300 umbilical cord blood samples found chemicals used in food packaging, carpets, and insecticides.
Perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoate showed up in 99% of the samples. The study was published in Environmental Science & Technology.
"There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants until the technology to capture and sequester the (carbon dioxide emissions) is available," said James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
The Labor Relations Act - if it is enforced as written and intended instead of the way judges have interpreted it - is pro-worker. Law professor Ellen Dannin argues for "taking back the workers' law" in this video lecture.
Want to work for free in the gold-plated sweatshop? Apply for a job with Honda of America. Some Honda workers are working through breaks and lunch to lower their production goals for Fridays. Then when they meet Friday production they can leave early - without pay!
Knowing a good thing when they see it - workers working for free - Honda's Department of Mind Control will soon be raising those quotas to get more work for free. Speed-ups kill - even self imposed ones - but will GM & Ford demand the same thing in upcoming contracts?
"We estimate that the number of work-related injuries and illnesses in Michigan is three times greater than the official estimate derived from the BLS annual survey," Dr. Kenneth Rosenman of Michigan State University reports. "Whereas BLS statistics suggest that work-related injuries affect 1 in 15 Michigan workers per year, the new results suggest that the true rate is closer to 1 in 5."