The rubber milling machine that took Preacher’s hand lacked a body bar safety device. Four days later, on Feb. 16 at the Bridgestone-Firestone plant in Des Moines, Iowa, 30-year-old maintenance worker Dan Keeney lost his left arm to an auger that was not covered. Two days after that, on Feb. 18 back at Cooper Tire in Texarkana, a rubber milling machine with a body bar safety device that had been disabled for years crushed both hands of 42-year-old D.E. Morris Charles Hunter.Thursday was May 1, International Workers' Day. Of course, in the U.S., we have Labor Day, which was instituted as a less radical alternative to or replacement for May Day. Workers around the world celebrate the day, and in the U.S., unions used it to focus on the need for immigration reform through rallies and events across the country. The AFL-CIO did a light projection with stories and names of deported immigrant workers lit up on the side of the labor federation's Washington, DC, headquarters. SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Saenz issued a statement saying:
Those manufacturing workers are maimed. But they survived. Too many do not. On Monday, my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), tolled a bell for each of the 33 Steelworkers killed on the job since last Workers’ Memorial Day 12 months ago, including John Meyer, who was 51 when he was fatally injured in July at the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant in LaVergne, Tenn. [...]
Sometimes, corporations place production and profit above human safety. As a result, workers lose lives and limbs. Cooper recently announced it will spend $970,000 to improve safety. That’s good. But it comes too late for the two Cooper workers who are now amputees. A corporation that values workers’ lives engages in proactive safety, and thus preserves the hands applauding it.
“May Day marks our enduring promise to our immigrant communities and workers everywhere to get immigration reform done this year. [...]Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.
“Our community, their constituents, can no longer wait. Let this May Day remind Speaker John Boehner and his colleagues that the American public and millions of immigrant families who refuse to remain silent will continue to push for immigration reform and citizenship until it is signed into law.
A fair day's wage
- A fascinating story from the New York Times' Tara Siegel Bernard on how Allstate screwed thousands of its insurance agents, and the resulting lawsuit, which has been going on for 13 years now:
... after building up their agencies for nearly a decade or more, the agents said they were called into meetings in late 1999 by Allstate managers. The agents could keep on selling Allstate policies, they were told, but they would no longer be entitled to health insurance, a retirement account or profit-sharing, and their pension benefits would no longer accrue. Instead, they would become independent contractors. [...]
By calling the program a group reorganization, the company was able to avoid providing employees who did not sign the release severance of up to 52 weeks’ pay, Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said in an April 7 memo. Yet the judge said that Allstate’s cost-cutting program was just a staff reduction in disguise. He did not rule on whether Allstate’s actions were illegal, but did note that it was “self-serving and, from most perspectives, underhanded.”
- A warehouse worker explains how Amazon steals its workers' time.
- Nissan workers in Canton, Mississippi, are still organizing to join the UAW, despite formidable opposition. In fact, that opposition has led the UAW and global union IndustriAll to ask the State Department to mediate in the UAW campaign at a Mississippi Nissan plant, where they allege Nissan has interfered.
- Two workers were killed and nine were injured in an explosion at a Texas oil field Wednesday morning.
- A victory for college adjunct professors:
In secret ballot voting supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the pro-union votes number 160, compared to 75 anti-union ones, reports Katherine Kavanaugh, one of the leaders of the faculty group. This unofficial count has been confirmed by a NLRB spokeswoman, who adds that the agency normally takes about a week to confirm an election of this kind. Once the election is formally certified by NLRB, the part-time college instructors will be represented by Gaithersburg, Md.-based Service Employees International Union Local 500.
- Eleven quotes from people who want to lower the minimum wage.
- More on the JetBlue pilots' union vote.
- Fighting the Big Apple's inequality problem.
- Postal unions and teachers protest the plan to replace your local post office with Staples stores.
- One teacher's view of why the tech industry loves Common Core. (Hint: It involves buying an awful lot of computers and software.)
- Before you claim anything crazy like that the corporate education reform movement believes in accountability, you might want to look at Florida.
- How do the powers that be decide who passes and who fails Common Core tests? Are you sure you want to know? But can you afford not to know?