Get the Lead Out: Joe Rubin at Huffington Post has a troubling story of how the California Department of Public Health failed to crack down on lead contamination at a firing range, or even refer the case CalOSHA despite serious worker overexposure and neighborhood contamination.
Trump’s Impact on Public Safety: Former OSHA head David Michaels tells us how Environmental Impact Studies, derided by Trump, have saved the environment and peoples’ lives. Trump should be praising and improving these protections instead of trying to dismantle them. In fact, an Environmental Impact Study may have prevented a major disaster at Los Alamos National Laboratory that could have contaminated a large swath of the Southwest, exposing millions of people to increased risk of cancer.
Worker Safety Sacrificed on Altar of CEO Compensation (It’s a Long Story): We’ve written a couple of times (here and here) about the demise of the famed Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety (LMRIS), the premier private sector researcher establishment in occupational safety and health. None of the excuses and explanations from the Liberty spokesperson made much sense, given the value and reputation of the Institute. But now we may have the key to the mystery. David Long, President and CEO of Liberty Mutual, received an $8.2 million bonus last year — which, according to my sources, would just about cover the annual budget of LMRIS. But before you get too bent out of shape, that bonus just brought Long’s total compensation up to around $17 million, only the second most highly compensated insurance executive, behind Chubb’s Chairman and CEO Evan Greenberg who earned a whopping $24.4 million.
Deconstructing Worker Protections: The Center for Progressive Reform put out a new report yesterday, “The Twin Demons of the Trump-Bannon Assault on Democracy,” which dissects the problems with Trump’s regulatory executive orders. The first, you may remember, requires agencies to remove two protections (for workers, the environment, etc.) for every one they add. The second orders agencies to develop a plan to implement the first “2 for 1” order. The CPR report, written by CPR Member Scholar Joe Tomain, examines the fundamental legal weaknesses of two anti-regulatory executive orders, and how Trump and Bannon’s attack on regulatory protections “constitute[s] a severe threat to American society and the American economy,” not to mention American workers.
It’s Murder! Murder is what Patrick Purcell, Executive Director of the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET) calls New York city construction fatalities that are blamed on employer negligence. NYCOSH Director Charlene Obernauer notes that Latino workers suffer the most; “30 percent of New York State’s construction workforce is Latino, and 57 percent of fatalities on the job were Latino workers.” Earlier this year, NYCOSH released a report, “Deadly Skyline: An Annual Report on Construction Fatalities in New York State.” Researchers found that employers routinely violate legal regulations with impunity.
Take Your Daughter to the War on Workers Week: First Daughter Ivanka headlined the President’s Workforce Week last week, but the Guardian says employees in an Indonesian factory making clothes for Ivanka’s clothing label tell of “being paid so little they cannot live with their children, anti-union intimidation and women being offered a bonus if they don’t take time off while menstruating.” Oh, and then there were those labour activists investigating possible abuses at a Chinese factory that makes Ivanka Trump shoes who disappeared into police custody. Carry Somers, founder of the non-profit Fashion Revolution said: “Ivanka Trump claims to be the ultimate destination for Women Who Work, but this clearly doesn’t extend to the women who work for her in factories around the world.” (h/t The Pump Handle)
(Anti) Workforce Week, Part 2: Unions are good for worker safety because unionized workers are more likely to stand up for their health and safety rights. But for Trump and his minions, dedication to “the workforce,” means weakening unions. The main tool to do that: The National Labor Relations Board. Trump has made his first of two nominations that will move the Board’s majority to the Republican side (Marvin Kaplan), and the NY Times reports on a number of pro-labor issues that Trump is likely to reverse, including Obama rules increasing the likelihood that companies could be held responsible for labor violations committed by contractors and franchisees, making it easier for relatively small groups of workers within a company to form a union, granting graduate students at private universities a federally protected right to unionize and allowing union elections to proceed on a faster timetable.
Truckers – What do they want? Justice: For the 15th in the last four years, Los Angeles port truck drivers have gone on strike to protest illegal subcontracting, misclassification and wage theft by trucking companies. We wrote earlier this week about abysmal treatment and abuse the drivers receive and efforts by the Teamsters to organize them. Around 60 truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports began striking terminals across the region Monday morning. The strike is expected to expand to other companies Tuesday.
“Stop Lying to Coal Miners — A Final Special Treat: We have now come to the end of another “Short Stuff” and those of you who have slogged your way to the end of this painful post deserve a gift: John Oliver’s takedown of Donald Trump’s lies to miners, his critique of some of the heroes of mine safety like ex-con Don Blankenship (Upper Big Branch) and Bob Murray (Crandall Canyon), and of course destroying the myth that coal, coal miners and coal owners are all on the same team. The myth that when you help one, you help them all. The myth that Donald Trump is going to put coal miners back to work. The myth that Obama was to blame for the historic, decades-long decline in coal. The myth that…. Just watch it.