Posted on May 10, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Mike Elk
On average, 13 U.S. workers die a day in workplace accidents, as in this OSHA illustration of grain entrapment. (Wikimedia Commons)
“My happiness was taken away in a matter of seconds,” says Adrianna Martinez of the death of her husband, Orestes Martinez, in a workplace safety accident four years ago. “My family and I are broken. Losing my husband, my best friend, my love has left an empty space in my heart.”
Orestes Martinez, a construction worker in Houston, was killed on the job. Martinez and two other workers were moving a two-ton lead door by hand because no lift devices were available. The door fell and crushed Martinez.
OSHA found that Martinez’s employer, J.T. Vaughn Enterprises, Inc., had committed two serious safety violations that led to Orestes Martinez’s death. But OSHA fined the company only $10,000. On appeal, an administrative judge dismissed one of the violations and reduced the fine to $3,500 (more…)
Filed under: Workplace health and safety | Tagged: OSHA, WestTexas explosion | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 30, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by John Jacobsen
A response to Matthew Yglesias‘ musings on Bangladesh, outsourcing, and the murder of 359 garment workers.
“Where’s my mother? Where’s my mother?” cried Rana Ahmed as she rushed through Enam Medical College and Hospital.
Mosammat Khurshida wailed as she looked for her husband. “He came to work in the morning. I can’t find him,” she said. “I don’t know where he is. He does not pick up his phone.
An arm jutted out of one section of the rubble. The lifeless body of a woman covered in dust could be seen in another.
Only 4 months after a factory fire in Dhaka killed 112 workers, another 362 have died in the collapse of a garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh; and in a compassionately timed piece put out by Slate this week, business correspondent Mathew Yglesias explained to us why “it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety standards than the United States.”
Filed under: Low wage workers, Solidarity, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Bangladesh, factory deaths, Matthew Yglesias | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Mike Elk
(April 25) Today, President Obama spoke at a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the 15 people who were killed in the West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant explosion. Standing in front of caskets and large photos of many of the firefighters killed, President Obama said, “To the families, the neighbors grappling with unbearable loss, we are here to say you are not alone. You are not forgotten. We may not all live here in Texas, but we’re neighbors too. We’re Americans too, and we stand with you.”
Obama’s remarks in West come three years to the day after he gave a similar speech eulogizing the 29 miners who died in 2010’s Upper Big Branch mine explosion. But in that speech, Obama used the memorial to make the case for workplace safety.
“How can we let anyone in this country put their lives at risk by simply showing up to work; by simply pursuing the American Dream?” said the president. “We cannot bring back the 29 men we lost. They are with the Lord now. Our task, here on Earth, is to save lives from being lost in another such tragedy; to do what must be done, individually and collectively, to assure safe conditions underground–to treat our miners like they treat each other–like family.”
Today’s memorial speech in Texas, notably, did not include any such calls for increased workplace safety measures.
Filed under: Politics, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Obama, West Chemical and Fertilizer Plant explosion | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Dozens of Bangladesh workers in several garment factores were killed in a building collapse today. Photo: Bangladesh Federation of Workers Solidarity (BFWS).
April 24, 2013—Another four garment factories in Bangladesh became death traps today, and the Solidarity Center is mourning the senseless loss of life and the grievous injuries that have befallen hundreds of workers who were simply trying to make a living. The organization is calling on the Bangladesh government to enforce its labor and building codes, on brands that source from the country to prioritize health and safety conditions in factories, and on both to respect the rights of workers and to recognize that the only way Bangladesh will have safe factories is if workers have a voice on the job.
At least 80 workers lost their lives and more than 600 people were injured when the eight-story building collapsed, according to the Bangladesh government. Hundreds remain trapped.
Filed under: Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Bangladesh, Solidarity Center, Workers Memorial Day | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 21, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
The Tazreen Fashion factory, where at least 112 workers died in multi-story fire. Photo: OSHE
February 20, 2013—Three months after at least 112 workers died in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire, dangerous and deadly working conditions are commonplace for the nearly 2 million Bangladeshi garment workers, who have little recourse than to take jobs that may kill them.
Despite international outrage and local promises to improve workplace safety, at least 37 fire and fire-related incidents have occurred in Bangladeshi garment factories since the Nov. 24 Tazreen tragedy, according to data compiled by Solidarity Center staff in Bangladesh. Nine more people have lost their lives at work and more than 650 garment workers have been injured. The Solidarity Center in the capital, Dhaka, has received reports that underage workers were injured at one factory fire incident.
February 20, World Day of Social Justice, highlights the necessity of promoting decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all. Despite a global outcry about workplace safety following the Tazreen fire, where flames engulfed a multistory building lacking in fire escapes and exits, Bangladesh has averaged three fire incidents a week. Bangladeshi garment workers—extremely poor and vulnerable and primarily women—risk their lives every day on the job, often too fearful to complain about substandard conditions and possible dangers.
Filed under: Global organizing, Low wage workers, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Bangla Desh, Bangladesh, factory fire, Tazreen, Tazreen Fashion factory fire | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Harold Meyerson
(Jan 2)Friday’s Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart “is planning to monitor subcontractors’ U.S. warehouses, in the same way it tries to police conditions at suppliers’ factories around the globe.”
For the more than half-million Americans who work in warehouses like those that supply Wal-Mart—the Labor Department puts their number at 672,000—this is modestly good news. As the Prospect has been reporting since 2009, Wal-Mart and America’s other discount retailers don’t employ their warehouse workers directly. In the Ontario-Fontana exurbs of Los Angeles, where half the imports that come into the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors are trucked to be unloaded, arranged on pallets, and retrucked to Wal-Mart and kindred stores for a thousand miles around, the warehouses themselves are owned by property management companies, and they’re run by logistics companies with which Wal-Mart and other retailers contract. But the logistics companies aren’t the workers’ employers of record. Rather, some 270 temporary employment agencies in the areas are the workers’ legal employers. Some of the workers I interviewed had gone through dozens of such employers, even though they had worked at the same job in the same warehouse for more than a decade.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Walmart, supply chain, warehouse workers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Laura Clawson
Walmart CEO Michael Duke recently had this to say to the Council on Foreign Relations:
“We will not buy from an unsafe factory,” Mr. Duke told the audience. “If a factory is not going to operate with high standards, then we would not purchase from that factory.”
There’s one huge problem with that: It’s not true. Walmart demonstrably does buy from unsafe factories, it’s just that when things go wrong it tries to deny that it knew it was buying from them. And its entire system of supposedly monitoring and preventing unsafe conditions is a sham, as Steven Greenhouse and Jim Yardley detail. At the Tazreen factory in Bangladesh where more than 100 workers died in a November fire:
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing, Uncategorized, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: supply chain, Walmart | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 18, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Mike Hall
It’s a double whammy for low-wage workers when they get hurt or fall ill on the job.
First, they lose pay because the vast majority (more than 80%) of low-wage workers do not have any paid sick leave to take time off to recover. Second, not only does the pay check shrink, but because of inadequate workers’ compensation laws, they must shoulder a bigger portion of their health care costs with those smaller paychecks. That means workers and their communities must bear a larger share of the $39 billion (in 2010) that workplace injuries and illnesses cost the nation.
A new policy brief, “Mom’s Off Work ’Cause She Got Hurt: The Economic Impact of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in the U.S.’s Growing Low-Wage Workforce,” examines the growing problem.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Workplace health and safety | Tagged: Health Care, job safety, Low wage workers, Mom’s Off Work ’Cause She Got Hurt, workers compensation, workplace illnesses, workplace injuries, workplace safety | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 1, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
International Trade Union Confederation
Today on World AIDS Day (WAD) 2012, the ITUC commemorates the many millions of people who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, and pays tribute to those living with HIV and those who have fought to bring attention to the epidemic and advocate for action.
Despite the progress achieved, still 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2011. Only 54% of people in need have access to ARV treatment, and people infected and affected by HIV continue suffering from discrimination, stigmatization and deprivation of rights. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most affected, with 23.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS on a world total of 34.2 million, but HIV/AIDS is also threatening many other countries and regions. For example, AIDS-related deaths are rising in regions such as Eastern Europe, Central Asia (21%) and the Middle East and North Africa (17%).
Trade unions are vigorously committed to uphold their strong and continued leadership in confronting HIV/AIDS in the world of work and to ensure that the progress and investments already made will not erode. [Read a fascinating story on the work of the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center work in South Africa on Aids--Talking Union]
Trade unions will therefore highlight the 2011-2015 WAD theme, “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths”, to call for more social justice, equality and fairness of the future action and the recognition of the role of the world of work in the AIDS response.
Filed under: Workplace health and safety | Tagged: ITUC, World Aids Day | 1 Comment »