News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Daily Kos Labor digest
August, 16 2017
● When your boss stores dead bodies in the break room, you’ll be glad you have a union to speak out.
● That saying about not eating your seed corn seems like it would apply to this tentative deal between a Maine union and Paul LePage’s administration.
- Donald Trump’s policies will mean more workers dead on the job
August, 15 2017
Donald Trump’s rollbacks of worker protections could cost lives. Kathleen Rest, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists and former acting director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and David Michaels, a public health professor and former assistant secretary of labor, leave no room for doubt on that front. People die from workplace injuries and work-related diseases every day:
People like 25-year-old Donovan Weber who suffocated in a trench collapse in Minnesota. Or Michael McCort, Christopher Irvin, Antonio Navarrete and Frank Lee Jones who were killed at a power plant in Florida when molten slag reaching 1,000 degrees poured down on them as they tried to unplug a tank. Or Wanda Holbrook, whose head was crushed by a malfunctioning robot as she adjusted machinery in Michigan.
Each day in the United States, 13 people are killed as a direct result of hazardous working conditions. And, more than 10 times that number die of work-related diseases that are less sudden but no less devastating.
And Trump’s policies are going to make that worse:
Since January, we’ve seen delays and rollbacks in workplace protections. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed weakening protections for workers exposed to cancer-causing beryllium and delayed enforcement of its silica rule, increasing the likely incidence of lung disease. It has delayed the electronic submission of injury and illness data and stopped releasing public information about enforcement actions, inhibiting public and researchers’ access to data that can inform prevention.
And Congress has permanently terminated OSHA’s ability to fine employers with a long-standing pattern of injury and illness record-keeping violations, a previously important signal to others in the industry.
Equally worrisome are proposed budget cuts for research, education and training designed to improve the health and safety of our nation’s workplaces — research that enhances knowledge on existing and future hazards; that underpins government policies and workplace practices; and that spurs innovations in workplace safety.
But Trump claims those rollbacks are going to be good for corporate profits, and that’s what he cares about. Certainly not workers’ lives.
- This week in the war on workers: About those deals Trump loves to brag about …
August, 12 2017
As Donald Trump brags about “jobs” deals like the one supposedly bringing Foxconn to Wisconsin, Bryce Covert takes a look at the reality of such deals in general …
Incentive packages have tripled in size since 1990, as states feel increasing pressure to up the ante to attract jobs for their residents. Yet research has found that these packages rarely change companies’ behavior. One study found that companies receiving tax incentives wouldn’t have left the states that offered them anyway. On top of that, the tax breaks had no discernable impact on job creation or company expansion. […]
Meanwhile, these packages don’t correlate with better economic performance. State tax regimes don’t have a substantial impact on economic activity. Rather, they represent a hefty giveaway from a state’s taxpayers to a large corporate entity.
… and the Foxconn deal in particular:
If Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory actually does create 13,000 jobs, the upper limit of what the company estimated, that would mean the state is spending $23,769 per job that will pay an average annual salary of $53,000. But so far the company has only actually committed to 3,000 jobs—which would mean Wisconsin shelling out a whopping $1 million per job.
Best deals ever! Winning!
- Oregon passes law protecting workers from predatory scheduling by bosses
August, 11 2017
Good news for Oregon workers in the retail and fast food industries. The state has become the first to pass a law protecting workers from some of the worst scheduling abuses employers love so much.
One in six Oregonians receive less than 24 hours of notice before their shifts, according to a survey the University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center published in February.
Now, Oregon is mandating that the state’s largest employers in the retail, hospitality and food service industries — those with more than 500 workers — give employees their schedules in writing at least a week ahead of time.
They’ll also have to give workers a 10-hour break between shifts, or pay them extra.
Refinery 29 interviewed some workers about how the law would affect their jobs; according to Tia Raynor:
I worked for an international company that owns a bunch of coffee shops in airports. So while I was working there, they told me that I would have a set schedule. Within seven months, my schedule had changed eight times.
“I am a veteran with PTSD, due to being in Iraq a couple of times, and I was not able to go to my group counseling sessions because my schedule got changed.”
Laws like this should be on the Democratic agenda at all levels: Democratic state legislatures could be passing scheduling protections just as Republican state legislatures pass anti-abortion and anti-union laws, and if Democrats want to campaigning to retake Congress on a good jobs agenda, this belongs right alongside minimum wage and paid leave.
- Missouri activists push to raise state minimum wage after Republicans block local increases
August, 11 2017
Missouri Republicans passed a pre-emption law to block St. Louis from daring to raise its minimum wage to $10. But that’s not the end of the story. Even after that state law enforcing a low minimum wage passed, Kansas City voters passed a minimum wage increase:
At the polls Tuesday, 69 percent of Kansas City voters approved a question that calls for a city wage floor of $10 an hour, effective Aug. 24, 2017, plus annual increases of $1.25 an hour, beginning Sept. 1, 2019, until the minimum reaches $15 an hour in 2022.
It passed citywide on a vote of 23,463 to 10,763, in unofficial final returns, with overwhelming support from south of the Missouri River tempered by less enthusiasm from voters in the Northland.
That Kansas City measure will be blocked unless a court challenge to the state pre-emption law succeeds. But there’s another possibility for Missouri workers statewide:
Meanwhile on Tuesday, a different group advocating higher wages stood on the City Hall steps to launch a statewide initiative petition campaign. Its goal is to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.70 an hour to $12 by 2023 by winning a statewide public vote in 2018.
That would be an effective way to answer state Republicans and raise wages for low-wage workers at the same time.