Labor Roundup | February 2019

Both the number and the rate of job injuries that killed workers declined by 1 percent in 2017, compared to the year before, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Some 5,147 workers died that year, a BLS survey calculated, or 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.

“That is an average of 14 workers dying every day,” said Peg Seminario, director of the AFL-CIO’s Occupational Safety and Health Department. “This does not include the deaths from occupational diseases like black lung and silicosis, which are on the rise.”

Especially affected were truckers and construction workers. Trucking set a record with 599 deaths from on-the-job injuries, up from 570 the year before. Some 747 construction workers died on the job last year, more than in any other occupation, and up from 736 in 2016.

Washington’s state legislature last year passed a law granting workers compensation to nuclear-irradiated cleanup workers at the closed Hanford nuclear warhead site – arguably the nation’s most-dangerous Superfund site. But in the other Washington – D.C. – the Trump administration in December went to federal court in Spokane to get judges to throw out the law, threatening those disabled workers’ medical payments.

The Trump lawsuit says the law “subjects contractors to significantly higher costs.”

President Trump’s “new NAFTA” is drawing more flak from unions, allies and lawmakers, and that’s bad news for the pact, which Trump is supposed to send to the 116th Congress soon.

Trump negotiated the “New NAFTA” with Canada and Mexico (called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA) and signed it in November to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA that Republican President George H.W. Bush negotiated and Democratic “centrist” President Bill Clinton signed over labor’s opposition.

“NAFTA 2.0 would not help end the outsourcing incentives that have hollowed out communities across the country,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who led the successful fight that forced President Barack Obama to shelve the jobs-losing anti-worker Trans-Pacific Partnership pact. “In its current form, this deal is far from being one that helps working people across North America.”

“When we look at the ‘New NAFTA’ through the eyes of workers in Lordstown, Detroit-Hamtramck, Warren, Brownstown, and Maryland (plants GM is closing), do you see a better future?” asked Auto Workers president Gary Jones. “It is hard to see how, as the reality of the new measure failed to stop the flow of work from the U.S. to Mexico in search of cheap labor.”

Sprint/T-Mobile merger should be studied by Congress, according to the Communications Workers, the Writers Guild of America-West and 10 other consumer and communications organizations including Consumer Reports, Common Cause, the National Consumer Law Center and the Center for Media Justice. They asked Democratic chairs of U.S. House committees that handle anti-trust issues to hold hearings on the proposal.

The groups say the $146 billion deal would reduce the number of nationwide wireless telecommunications providers, cutting competition and driving up prices for consumers and companies that use wireless communications.

CWA launched a website, TmobileSprintFacts.org, and a Twitter handle @TMSprintFacts, to provide facts about the merger.

The Right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is expanding its drive to destroy public-worker unions, and it wants to wreck private worker unions, too, according to statements at its November conference at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel.

ALEC is seeking a national “Right To Work” law, plus a requirement for public-employee unions to be recertified by members yearly (like Wisconsin’s infamous Act 10 engineered by ex-Gov. Scott Walker), and a prohibition on paying for officials’ handling disputes, instead forcing them to handle grievances on their own time and their own dime.

News Guild president Bernie Lunzer is asking unionists to pressure lawmakers to defend freedom of the press. His decision was sparked by President Trump’s eviction of CNN reporter Jim Acosta from a press conference and revocation of his credentials, and that nothing was done about the murder of journalist Adnan Khashoggi.

“When journalists are killed or threatened, we mourn their deaths and pray for their safety,” Lunzer said. “Such attacks also diminish the free press that is protected in this country’s Constitution. And when politicians wrongfully accuse journalists of misdeeds, we stand with our colleagues. We demand that our nation’s leaders end the rhetoric that encourages evil people to act out their evil with impunity.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper



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