A two year contract has been approved by workers at six Atlantic City casinos. Five thousand workers fall under the new contract which sees a wage freeze during the first year. The hotels sought the wage freeze so they could have some time to recover as the country leaves a recession. The contract will allow for wage increases in the second year. Ninety-six percent of the workers represented by UNITE-Here local 54 approved the contract.
A plant that violated Louisville’s zoning rules will remain open. Jesse Russell reports:
By Doug Cunningham
The Graduate Employee Organization (GEO) at the University of Illlinois Urbana-Champagne campus went on strike Monday to secure tuition waivers for graduate employees. The grad student employee bargaining unit of 2700 is represented by the American Federation of Teachers/Illinois Federation of Teachers Local 6300. Local 6300 spokesman Peter Campbell says a bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday morning and it’s possible a settlement could be reached in that session.
More than two-thirds of injured or sick workers in a recent survey feared employer discipline or even losing their jobs if their injuries were reported, a new study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed today.
The GAO surveyed more than 1,000 occupational health practitioners and found:
- More than two-thirds observed worker fear for reporting an injury or illness.
- A third said they were pressured by employers to provide insufficient treatments to workers to hide or downplay work-related injuries or illnesses.
- More than half of practitioners said they were pressured by an employer to downplay an injury or illness so it wouldn’t be reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s official log that tracks workplace injuries and illnesses.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the GAO report confirms what rank-and-file workers, local union safety activists and workplace safety professionals have long said:
Employer policies and practices that discourage the reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses are widespread and are undermining the safety and health of America’s workers….These destructive and discriminatory practices must be stopped.
Injury and illness records help OSHA allocate its resources, accurately target its inspections and evaluate the success of efforts to improve workplace health and safety. Employers underreport injury and illness rates because lower rates likely lead to fewer inspections, improve their competitiveness when bidding for new contracts and lower their workers’ compensation costs.
The report also confirms a recent survey of local unions by the AFL-CIO and national unions that found many employer “safety” programs actually discourage reporting and recording of workplace injuries.
More than half of local union leaders surveyed reported there were safety incentive programs, injury discipline programs, absenteeism policies with demerits for injuries and/or post-injury drug testing policies in their workplaces and that these policies discouraged the reporting of workplace injuries by workers.
Employer policies that discourage the reporting of injuries not only undermine the completeness and accuracy of workplace injury data and the Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys. More importantly, they prevent injured workers from receiving needed medical care and prevent hazardous conditions that injure workers from being identified and corrected.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says OSHA will hit hard employers who underreport injuries and illnesses:
Many of the problems identified in the report are quite alarming, and OSHA will be taking strong enforcement action where we find underreporting.
The GAO report was requested by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) The four are the chief sponsors of the Protecting America’s Workers Act, which would give OSHA additional tools to combat underreporting of injuries and illnesses by employers.
Says Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee:
We cannot allow the lack of accurate information to permit hazardous working conditions to go unaddressed, putting workers’ health and lives at risk. The GAO report underscores the need for OSHA to have all the tools they need to eliminate incentives that result in underreporting injuries.
Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. says the underreporting of injuries and illnesses is “undermining the health and safety of America’s workers.”
If we don’t know the full extent of the workplace hazards workers face, we cannot fully address these risks. We need to take steps to require employers to provide a full account of on-the-job injuries and to protect workers, so they can report workplace incidents without fear of retaliation.
To read the GAO report, click here.
Be sure to check out “16 Deaths Per Day,” a video by Brave New Films that highlights the weak deterrence and penalties of the nation’s workplace safety laws.
The continued repression of trade unionists by the regime set up in Honduras after a June 28 coup makes it impossible to hold free and fair elections, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a Nov. 13 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Trumka points out that delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention in September passed a resolution calling on the U.S. government to suspend military aid to Honduras until President Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected leader, is returned to office and human and trade union rights have been restored.
With an illegitimate government in power, scheduled elections later this month cannot be fair, free and open, Trumka says.
The violent and coercive repression of political opposition to the de facto coup regime, including trade unionists, has continued. At least 12 trade unionists have died in the violence since June 28. National and international human rights organizations report ongoing human rights violations committed by state security forces, including killings, severe beatings, sexual violence, the imprisonment and torture of activists, as well as the arrest and detention of President Zelaya’s supporters.
Trumka calls on Clinton and the U.S. government to oppose national elections in Honduras unless Zelaya is reinstated and to implement the recommendations in the AFL-CIO resolution.
More than 1,100 graduate student employees, who teach nearly a quarter of the undergraduate classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), went on strike today after the university refused to guarantee continuation of the teaching and grad assistants’ tuition waivers.
The members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO)/UIUC, an AFT affiliate, say the school’s refusal to include the waivers in bargaining agreement is a precursor to eliminating the tuition waivers that allow most teaching and grad assistants to afford a graduate education. In a statement, the GEO says:
The administration’s refusal to guarantee the continuation of its current tuition waiver practice not only means that the majority of graduate employees could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in additional tuition charges, but also indicates its plans to implement such a change.
By making graduate education untenable for all but the most affluent students, the administration is abandoning its responsibility to ensure access to the highest level of public education for all.
The graduate employees began bargaining with the university in the spring and have been working without a contract since August. In talks over the weekend, the university continued to refuse to include the waivers in the contract.
GEO/UIUC member Emily Shaw says the demand to include the waiver “is not about grabbing cash in the middle of a recession.” In a column on Huffington Post, she writes:
It’s about ensuring that the university does not try to reduce the compensation of graduate students in order to address its budgetary problems. If the university cannot meet this demand, it is willingly ensuring that the future of graduate education…is less accessible and a less attractive option for people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
On AFT’s higher education blog FACE Talk, Chris Goff writes that without the waiver guarantee in the contract, teaching and grad assistants might “actually have to pay…to have a job.”
By refusing to guarantee tuition waivers, the university is essentially telling grad employees that they’re more than happy to have them as labor, but they might be out of luck in terms of actually getting a degree. It also creates the potential for a system where TAs and GAs actually have to pay the university in order to have a job. In the bad old days, we called employers like the university “labor sharks.”
More than 3,000 union members and allies crowded the streets of Austin, Texas, on Saturday to show their support for health care reform.
The demonstrators gathered at the State Capitol to hear from workers, community leaders and lawmakers. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Emerita Linda Chavez-Thompson got the crowd fired up, and leaders and activists from across the union movement encouraged the crowd to stay mobilized.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who voted for the House’s historic health care reform bill a week ago, thanked those present for their activism and said we need to keep fighting to pass real reform legislation. Said Doggett:
We need an engaged citizenry to say we won’t stand for anything less than genuine reform.
Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, said she was encouraged by the grassroots energy and the progress made this year on health care reform:
The groups that worked together to organize today’s demonstration agree that the biggest disaster of all would be to do nothing about health care.
Our nation has never been this close to making history on one of the most intractable problems of our lifetimes….Health care can’t wait.
Here’s the latest from the battle for health care reform:
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce got caught by the Washington Post proposing to hire an economist to create a study critical of health care reform. The Chamber was going to offer $50,000 if a researcher would call health care reform “a job-killer.” Just like their allies in the insurance industry, they’re hoping they can come up with dodgy numbers to kill reform. (And, as Michael Whitney notes at Firedoglake, it’s the same game they play with the Employee Free Choice Act.)
- AARP members strongly support key provisions of health care reform, a new poll shows.
- The Center for American Progress points out that nearly 60 percent of the uninsured are employed, and one in five adults with a job doesn’t have health coverage. They also note strong public support for reform, including a public health insurance option.
- The Miami Herald reports that excise taxes on health care benefits could hurt middle class families.
- The House-passed bill would aid strapped state budgets by boosting federal support for Medicaid funding.
- Health care reform will strengthen Medicare.
- Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) explains in the LaCrosse Tribune why he voted for “long-overdue” health care reform. It’s a great piece that explains how the legislation will help families and businesses.
- The Senate will act on health care reform soon. Contact your senators now!
Chloe Osmer of the Clean Carwash Campaign in Los Angeles reports on a new way the workers are delivering their message across the area.
Last week, the message that carwash workers are organizing for justice reached new heights—above L.A.’s famous Sunset Boulevard. The billboard, which reads “Wash Away Injustice: Boycott Vermont Hand Wash,” stands out starkly among the sea of corporate advertising signs that line the popular strip.
Vermont Hand Wash, owned by brothers Benny and Nisan Pirian, has been at the center of an organizing campaign and currently faces charges by the Los Angeles city attorney of criminal misconduct.
Two months ago, carwash workers and their supporters were shut down when they tried to send a public message about their struggle by renting a billboard near Vermont Hand Wash calling on consumers to boycott the carwash.
The boycott message was considered too radical by corporate advertising executives, so the CLEAN Carwash Campaign agreed to a billboard message that read, “Support Carwash Workers: Wash Away Injustice.”
But even that was too much for the carwash owners and billboard owner CBS Outdoor, which apparently caved to pressure from the carwash owners and took down the billboard message, only minutes before it was to have debuted before a crowd of hundreds of CLEAN Carwash Campaign supporters.
But this week, L.A.’s carwasheros found a way to get their message out, finally finding a company that was willing to post their call for justice. The billboard stands above Sunset Boulevard at a spot traversed by over 18,000 people a day. In coming weeks, hundreds of thousands of Angelenos will see the message.
Bosbely Reyna, a former carwash worker from Vermont Hand Wash who is an activist with the Carwash Workers Organizing Committee of the United Steelworkers (USW), said:
We hope they see the billboard and support the boycott!
Some 26,000 CWA members ratify pact with AT&T in the Southwest, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.
CWA, AT&T: AT&T workers in the Southwest ratified a new four-year contract. The 26,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 6 had been working under a contract that expired April 4.
IUE-CWA, Dresser Rand: After nearly two years without a contract, workers at Dresser Rand’s Painted Post facility in New York ratified a contract, effective through March 1, 2013. The contract covers 340 members of IUE-CWA Local 313.
UNITE HERE, Multiple Casinos: Casino workers in Atlantic City, N.J., overwhelmingly approved new two-year contracts at six casinos. The agreements cover some 5,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 54 at Tropicana Casino and Resort, Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort, Resorts Atlantic City, Trump Taj Majal, Trump Plaza and Trump Marina.
WORK STOPPAGES AND ACTIONS
UNITE HERE, Palace Hotel: Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 held a three-day strike from Nov. 10-12 at a second San Francisco hotel. This strike at the Palace Hotel followed a three-day strike at the Grand Hyatt the previous week. Hotel workers are protesting the hotels’ attempts to slash health care benefits.
AFT, University of Illinois: More than 2,000 graduate workers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign went on strike this morning. Negotiations between the Graduate Employees Organization (IFT/AFT) Local 6300 and the university broke down Saturday when the university refused to guarantee continuation of its tuition waiver practice for graduate workers.
ATU, Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority: Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 filed a lawsuit in federal court Nov. 9, requesting enforcement of an arbitration award that provided wage increases for about 7,700 transit workers in the Washington, D.C., area. The transit agency, Metro, is appealing the award, alleging the arbitration panel did not comply with federal law.
AFSCME, State of Iowa: Thousands of Iowa state workers, members of AFSCME Council 61, will vote later this month on whether to approve a “memorandum of understanding” with the state. Under the agreement, 20,000 AFSCME members would take five unpaid days off in exchange for a guarantee of no layoffs for the next seven months.
UFCW, Safeway and Fry’s: A strike by 20,000 grocery workers in Arizona was averted when Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99 reached a tentative agreement with Safeway and Fry’s supermarkets. Details of the agreement reached late Thursday have not been released.
Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.