The loss of a fellow worker on the job reminds us that ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is a constant struggle. Twelve workers per day are killed on the job in the U.S. and countless others are injured.
It is the union's obligation to encourage and, if necessary, force the boss to correct dangerous situations. Safety must be engineered into all machinery, equipment, and processes. Our elected lawmakers must also acknowledge their role.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) remains broken and underfunded. OSHA inspections remain abysmally infrequent. When violations are discovered, the agency's fines are far too low and are usually lowered further during the appeals process.
Speedup and new work technologies cause millions of repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome. It is estimated that 62 percent of all workplace injuries result from repetitive motion stress. The federal government needs to re-establish ergonomics standards to deal with the epidemic of repetitive stress injuries crippling American workers.
Many of the jobs our members perform are dangerous. We are exposed to toxic substances. Our jobs can turn deadly in an instant. Our obligation is to look after the health and well-being of our fellow workers and ourselves through the collective action of our union. But we also must force legislators to adequately protect working people through a strengthening of our nation's health and safety laws.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THIS 75th UE CONVENTION:
- Calls on locals to:
- Make health and safety issues a top priority, both during and outside of contract negotiations;
- Set up strong independent health and safety committees in each workplace;
- Exercise their right to accompany OSHA inspectors on any workplace visits;
- Contact the national union before becoming involved with Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP);
- Educate our members to engage in aggressive workplace struggle to address hazards in the workplace, as well as regarding the conditions under which unsafe work can be refused;
- Support local labor-initiated Committees on Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) groups;
- Demand lawmakers significantly expand OSHA funding to increase the number of inspectors, along with authorizing OSHA to carry out unannounced inspections, and to have no restrictions on the scope of any inspections at any time, under any circumstances;
- Demands that bosses be prosecuted for conditions that lead to severe injury or death on the job and that OSHA sharply increase fines on employers, triple them for repeat violators, and bar the worst violators from government contracts;
- Opposes any attempts to further restrict the rights of workers to sue their employers over job related injuries, unsafe conditions, and poisons;
- Demands that OSHA apply to all workplaces which do not have equal or better protections under other statutes, including public-sector workers.