In 2013, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of 150 workers each day from hazardous working conditions.Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's education and labor news.
Nearly 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but many injuries
are not reported. The true toll is likely two to three times greater, or 7.6 million to 11.4 million injuries each year.
Over the past four years, the job fatality rate has declined slightly each year, with a rate of 3.3 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2013 compared with a rate of 3.6 per 100,000 workers in 2010. [...]
Latino workers continue to be at increased risk of job fatalities. The fatality rate among Latino workers increased in 2013 to 3.9 per 100,000 workers, up from a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 in 2012. At the same time, the number and rate of fatalities for all other races declined or stayed the same. There were 817 Latino workers killed on the job in 2013, up from 748 deaths in 2012. Sixty-six percent of the fatalities (542 deaths) in 2013 were among workers born outside the United States. There was a sharp increase in Latino deaths among grounds maintenance workers. Specifically, deaths related to tree trimming and pruning doubled among Latino workers since 2012, and 87% of the landscaping deaths among Latino workers were immigrants. [...]
Workplace violence continues to be the second leading cause of job fatalities in the United States (after transportation incidents), responsible for 773 worker deaths and 26,520 lost-time injuries in 2013. Women workers suffered 70% of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence.
The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $360
billion a year.
"With a curfew, you will do more damage financially to our bars and restaurants than rioters will do," writes Liam Flynn, proprietor of Liam Flynn's Ale House, a Station North tavern not far from the CVS burned on Monday night, in an open letter to the mayor. "We have insurance for vandalism, not loss of revenue."A local bartender tells Citylab's Kriston Capps that his income has fallen to one-fifth of his usual take ... and that's with the weekend coming. It's not just income and problems getting too and from work, either. An emergency-room nurse told Capps that "Emergency care is primary care for a lot of people in Baltimore" and a decline in overnight visits suggested that some people were delaying care for things they'd normally want treated.
For Hong's part, the Thames Street Oyster House is stopping its dinner service at 7:30 p.m. While the restaurant could stay open later, Hong says he's concerned that his workers get home on time—no mean feat, given bus-service interruptions and road closures, especially in West Baltimore. Plus the hassle could be a problem for some workers.
"The mayor stated that, if you are stopped in violation of the curfew, you would be required to show an ID and a letter from your employer stating that you are traveling to or from work. I'm sure this is true across the service industry," Hong says, "but some of the staff might not have IDs that they can just pull out, whether it's due to immigration status or other concerns."
In other news:
- University of Chicago nurses narrowly avert a strike.
- Here are all the ways people are dying at work.
- The treasurer of a charter school is running for school board in Los Angeles. What does the audit of that school show?
- Edushyster on the Massachusetts takeover of the city of Holyoke's schools.
- Workers Independent News report for April 30, 2015:
On Thursday, members of the party will introduce a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 per hour, a $4.75 increase over the current rate, which has gone untouched since 2009.If Republicans are going to go to the mat to keep poverty wages, Democrats might as well go to the mat for something a little closer to a living wage—though they're still not pushing for the $15 an hour that fast food, retail, and other workers have been pushing for and that's been passed in Seattle. In other good news, though, the Raise the Wage Act would ultimately link the minimum wage to the rate of inflation so that wages would rise even if Republicans controlled Congress, and it would finally raise the tipped worker minimum wage from $2.13 an hour, where it's been for two decades.
The so-called Raise the Wage Act, which will be introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate, will slowly boost the current $7.25 rate over the next five years, with the first hike to $8 coming in 2016 and $1 annual increases occurring through 2020. The bill’s sponsors—Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, and Congressman Bobby Scott, a Democrat from Virginia—estimate that raising the federal minimum wage to $12 would result in increased pay for 38 million Americans.
Raising the minimum wage is extremely popular. It would mean fewer working families needing public assistance to get by. Including tipped workers in a raise would mean they'd face less sexual harassment and would change the current situation in which one in six restaurant workers live below the poverty line. And, contrary to what Republicans claim, raising the minimum wage isn't bad for job growth.
But it's never going to happen as long as Republicans are in a position to block it.
Three members - Ed Doherty, Mary Ann Stewart and Donald Willyard - voted against receivership. Doherty cited labor concerns regarding the vote and Stewart and Willyard said they were convinced to vote no following a visit to Holyoke Public Schools. They were the only two members to visit the schools.Only two people visited the schools they were passing judgment on. Eight board members voted for a hostile takeover without having visited the schools. That's all kinds of messed up.
One parent speaking against receivership said:
"Living in Holyoke comes with a stigma," she said. "Don't add to the stigma. Don't give our critics more reason to judge our community."And more:
Burke added, "A state takeover would be a slap in the face of those that educate our children."
- Port truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are striking.
- How to keep women with children out of the workforce.
- Why retail workers depend on merciful supervisors:
... 40 percent of American workers spend most of their work time outside of standard nine-to-five schedules, and almost 30 percent have variable shifts. Nonstandard hours mean less time with kids, more fights with spouses, and much more trouble with child care.
- What the "success" in Success Academy looks like.
- Workers Independent News report for April 28, 2015:
Jose Melena was performing maintenance in a 35-foot-long oven at [Bumble Bee Foods'] Santa Fe Springs plant before dawn Oct. 11, 2012, when a co-worker, who mistakenly believed Melena was in the bathroom, filled the pressure cooker with 12,000 pounds of canned tuna and it was turned on.Bumble Bee says it was all a "tragic accident" and charges aren't called for, but:
When a supervisor noticed Melena, 62, was missing, an announcement was made on the intercom and employees searched for him in the facility and parking lot, according to a report by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. His body was found two hours later after the pressure cooker, which reached a temperature of 270 degrees, was turned off and opened.
The San Diego-based company, former safety manager Saul Florez, and Angel Rodriguez, the director of plant operations, were each charged with three felony counts of committing an occupational safety and health violation that caused a death, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. [...]I'm sure it was an accident, in the sense that Melena's coworker did not intend to cook him to death. But companies have to be held responsible for safety procedures that make sure things like that don't happen. Kind of like car companies manufacture cars with seat belts and crumple zones.
If convicted, Rodriguez and Florez each face up to three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The company could be fined up to $1.5 million.
Appropriately enough, the charges came on Monday, the day before Workers Memorial Day, a day for remembering people killed on the job.
... we urge you to provide a preference in the contracting process to contractors that provide a living wage, fair healthcare and other benefits, and that give employees a voice in their workplace. Employees working full time on taxpayer-funded contracts should not have to rely on federal benefits like food assistance and medical care to provide for their families.Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (IL), Richard Blumenthal (CT), Sherrod Brown (OH), Barbara Boxer (CA), Bob Casey (PA), Ed Markey (MA), Cory Booker (NJ), and Mark Warner (VA) signed the letter, joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
President Obama’s Executive Order requires government contractors to pay employees $10.10 per hour. Assuming a full-time schedule with no earned vacation or sick days, a worker could earn about $21,000 annually.
With the cost of living in the Washington DC metropolitan area among the highest in the United States, the Rules Committee should build on this minimum wage by requiring contractors doing business with the U.S. Senate to be model employers who treat their employees fairly. People who work full time should be able to support themselves and their families.
Contractors should not be allowed to keep food and restaurant services prices low for Senators, Senate staff and visitors to the Senate while failing to pay their workers a living wage.
Outlining an agenda including raised wages, paid sick leave, expanded overtime eligibility, funding for infrastructure and education, and support for collective bargaining, Trumka asked:
The question is, will our candidates listen? Will they seize this opportunity? I wonder, and so do the vast majority of working Americans. The truth is we’re skeptical.That said, Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti and Brian Mahoney are not wrong when they write:
Are we wrong to be skeptical? I don’t think so. A surging army of workers, activists and families are tired of taking “maybe” for an answer. We’re tired of scared politicians who won’t stand up for what’s right. Listen to this: About one-third—30%—of working class voters after the last election said they couldn’t see any significant difference between the two parties. [...]
Of the working class voters we surveyed, 80% of Democrats and Republicans, 80%, say both parties do far too much for Wall Street and not nearly enough to help average folks.
The reality? AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and labor will probably have little choice but to get on board the Clinton bandwagon.But, Debenedetti and Mahoney report, Clinton's campaign is actively reaching out to unions to discuss policy. If she's taking their support for granted, she's not making it obvious at this stage of the campaign—and remember, in the 2008 primary, Clinton had substantial labor support.
In the end, there's getting on board and getting on board—an endorsement and some pro forma support vs. an all-out effort—and different unions will have different approaches to 2016. But when it comes down to it, unions face the same experience so many of us do, trying to push Democrats to the left, but then looking at Republican candidates and wanting to do anything possible to stop them, even if it means an imperfect Democrat.
There are 61,000 structurally deficient bridges in the United States, and this is what congressional Republicans want to do to transportation funding:
The House and Senate budgets cut highway and mass transit funding by an average of about 28 and 22 percent, respectively, over the next decade. To be sure, gas tax revenues for the Highway Trust Fund have fallen as fuel efficiency has risen, leaving a shortfall in the financing of highways and mass transit. But rather than finding new financing to avoid cuts in this funding -- as Congress has routinely done over the past decade -- the House and Senate budgets both chose to reduce needed investment in transportation infrastructure. Notably the House proposes to cut funding dramatically in 2016, by roughly 90 percent, as a way to address the shortfall in the trust fund. While the House funding reductions would be less severe in future years, funding would still remain significantly below the current level for the entire decade.That means weakened infrastructure—roads, bridges, and trains that people rely on to get to work and businesses rely on to ship goods—and lost jobs. But hey, it also means rich people not paying taxes, so Republicans are all for it.
Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
You see, these tests have a ripple effect. The immediate effect is that my students who receive services such as reading and resource will not receive these services for the next TWO WEEKS since the teachers who provide these services are proctoring the state tests. They will also lose services when some of these same teachers are pulled out to score the tests in the subsequent weeks.But it's not just Common Core, though that's the latest in the long string of hot new standardized tests. It's about the overall focus on testing as the center of how and what students are taught, which has changed education dramatically:
When I started teaching oh so many years ago, we focused on thematic instruction and integrating all subject areas so that our students had opportunities to make connections. We taught in ways that honored many learning styles, student’s individual differences and developmental stages, along with their individual needs. We understood (and still do) that each child has different intelligences and learning styles. My walls and windows of my classroom were covered with songs and poems, student artwork and artifacts of student learning. My little ones sang and read and played. We taught using literature with rich language and focused on building background knowledge. Children were encouraged to synthesize knowledge and draw conclusions using what they knew and what they were learning. We used a tremendous amount of glitter and paper and encouraged children to express themselves in ways that played to their strengths. We did projects and had lots of hands-on learning with manipulatives. I assessed through observation and working directly with students. [...]Does this sound like the kind of education that's going to teach anyone to love learning? To value thinking and reasoning and drawing their own conclusions? But this is what the push for more high-stakes testing is doing to American schools.
My walls are no longer covered with songs and poems and artwork. That has been replaced with “anchor charts”, “I can statements” and “Learning targets”. We barely use construction paper and I have not purchased glitter in 3 years. There is no time for art projects or creative expression. Children can no longer choose their learning. They write to prompts and must write different genres at certain times. Math is done on paper and manipulatives are few and far between (except when I pull out the old stuff). Reading is “close reading” and answers to questions are to be solely based on the text, without synthesis of prior knowledge.
Assessment is daily and must be documented along with being scripted (because Big Brother is watching). Modules are scripted, teacher led and boring for little ones. We have to have 50% of text presented as informational text. Students have to write essays before they even have automaticity of letter formation. ALL THIS IS DONE SO THEY CAN PREP FOR THE TESTS. My students will take keyboarding in 3rd grade so they can take the tests online…BEFORE SOME OF THEM EVEN HAVE THE PHYSICAL HAND SPAN TO USE A KEYBOARD.
Well, globalization and technology—which are often cited to prove that such wage drops are inevitable—are part of it, but they're not the whole story. It's true that:
... there really is a shift away from the sectors where less-educated workers can earn a decent living. In 1990, 40 percent of the prime-age male workers without a high school degree worked as operators and laborers, a number that declined to 34 percent in 2013. Jobs in food service, cleaning and groundskeeping nearly doubled in the same span, to 21 percent from 11 percent. But it wasn’t an even trade: Pay for operators and labors was $25,500 in 2013, compared with $20,400 for the food, cleaning and groundskeeping category.But that's just a small part of what's going on. The corporate race to the bottom is a much bigger reason for declining wages for workers with a high school diploma or less:
A bigger effect is downward pressure on pay in jobs held by low-education workers across the board.Numbers like these point to two big economic changes we need to win in the United States. First, workers need to join together and fight back. Part of the declining working- and middle-class share of income can be directly linked to declining union density. Class war from above is working, and disarming is not the way to fix that. Second, this is another data point in the argument for free public higher education: a college degree is coming to be as much of a necessity to make a living as a high school diploma was a generation or two ago. Just as public high school became free and widely available when that level of education became necessary to employment, it's time for college to be free now, so that being able to afford college to begin with doesn't become even more of a driver of economic inequality than it already is.
So not only did people shift from higher-paying fields to lower-paying ones, but inflation-adjusted pay also fell in all of those jobs. For example, production work — manufacturing, largely — was the highest-paying category for men without a high school diploma in 2013, paying them $28,000. But that sector was both smaller (29 percent of such workers, down from 31 percent) and paid less (down from $33,600) than it did in 1990.
How about being embarrassingly bad at job creation? That’s right. From January 2011 through January 2015, Louisiana under Jindal ranked 32nd in job creation with 5.4 percent growth over four years. Wisconsin under Walker ranked 35th, with 4.85 percent growth. New Jersey under Christie ranked 40th, with 4.15 percent growth. This compares with a national average of 8.21 percent.Ouch. And these are the guys who are—or were—supposed to be the GOP's rising stars. That's not all, either, as Paul Rosenberg shows:
It’s not just the embarrassing job-creation numbers, though that alone should be enough to disqualify the whole lot of them. New Jersey has just experienced its ninth bond downgrade under Christie, who may end up looking for a bridge to hide under. In Wisconsin, Walker, facing a two-year deficit that could go as high as $2 billion, has responded with $300 million in cuts for higher education, on top of billions in previous education cuts. Still, job creation was supposed to be Walker’s big thing—he promised to create 250,000 jobs in four years when he first ran in 2010, but came up short by more than 100,000 jobs. Making matters worse are the neighborhood comparisons. Wisconsin ranked between 29th and 41st in job growth over the last four years, the worst in the Midwest three of those years, and second worst the other. In fact, the state performed poorly on a whole host of indicators used by Bloomberg News, and suffers markedly in contrast with neighboring Minnesota, where progressive policies have that state’s economy recovering nicely.Of course governors can only control so much, but when you're below the national average in job growth and suffering on a range of other measures, the problem might just be something about the policies you're pushing. Do we really want to see those policies applied to the nation as a whole?
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- No current results.