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Global Day of Action will Mark Anniversary of Rana Plaza Garment Building Collapse in Bangladesh

Leading up to the Global Day of Action for the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh on April 24, UFCW Locals 888 and 1500 held an  action to call on retailers to do more to help the victims of the  factory disasters.

Leading up to the Global Day of Action for the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh on April 24, UFCW Locals 888 and 1500 held an
action to call on retailers to do more to help the victims of the
factory disasters.

Making Change at Walmart is joining Jobs with Justice, the International Labor Rights Forum, and community allies from around the world on April 24, in a day of action to stand in solidarity with garment workers in Bangladesh. One year after the Rana Plaza building collapse killed at least 1,138 people and injured more than 2,500 in the worst garment industry catastrophe in history, concerned citizens around the world will demand that Walmart and other apparel brands and retailers pay full and fair compensation to the victims of the Rana Plaza collapse.

The day of action will call on Walmart and other retailers to take responsibility and to pay their fair share of compensation to the survivors and families who lost loved-ones.

The action will also call on Walmart to pay compensation to the victims of the Tazreen factory fire, which took place on November 24, 2012, and where Walmart was the largest purchaser. The fire killed 112 workers and was the deadliest fire in the Bangladesh garment industry.

Demonstrations will take place at Walmart stores around the country. For more information, visit www.walmartdeathtraps.com.

Locals can participate in the Global Day of Action by:

1. Organizing or joining a demonstration at a Walmart store near you. Visit www.walmartdeathtraps.com and
http://bit.ly/RanaAction closer to the date for action listings.

Action ideas:

  • Leafleting in front of the store and letter delivery to store manager. Visit www.walmartdeathtraps.com for sample flyer and letter.
  • Die-in in front of the store. Protestors drape themselves in white sheets and lie on the sidewalk in front of the store with signs demanding the company pay compensation.

2. Post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media asking the company to pay the money owed to the victims and about the Global Day of Action. On the company’s Facebook wall, post a photo of members holding a sign calling on the company to Pay Up. Members can also follow Twitter: #ranaplaza #payup @orphansplace @ILRF.

3. Locals can send an e-blast about the Global Day of Action, asking supporters to join an action and spread the message on social media. For more information, email Liana Foxvog at International Labor Rights Forum at liana@ilrf.org.

Locals can also start taking action before April 24 by using the materials from the Jobs with Justice toolkit that can be downloaded from http://bit.ly/April24Kit.

UFCW Locals 888 and 1500 held an action with Rana Plaza survivor Aklima Khanam and community allies in New Jersey last week. The crowd of more than 50 people protested in front of Children’s Place retail headquarters and Walmart stores in hopes of bringing attention to the horrific working conditions and ask that these companies do more to help the victims. A video of the action can be viewed at http://bit.ly/NJVideo.

New Government Study Confirms Dangers of Working in Poultry Industry

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, DC—A new study released by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) confirms what workers in the poultry industry have been saying for decades—it is among the most dangerous places to work in America.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • 42 percent of workers had evidence of carpal tunnel syndrome
  • 41 percent of workers performed daily tasks above the threshold recommended by industry experts
  • 57 percent of workers reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom

The report was commissioned to allay safety concerns about the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed poultry modernization rule, which would increase the speed that birds are processed from 70-91 a minute to a maximum of 175 a minute. Yet the drastic level of injury documented by NIOSH occurred before lines were ever speeded up.

“One injury is one too many,” said UFCW International President Joe Hansen. “Four out of ten workers with carpal tunnel. Nearly six out of ten showing symptoms. This is an epidemic.”

Hansen said the industry, which has fought efforts to give workers a union voice on the job, should stop dragging its feet and adopt the recommendations outlined in the NIOSH report. They include but are not limited to: designing job tasks at the levels recommended by industry experts, providing more than one break during a work shift, and enhancing reporting, screening, and assessment of musculoskeletal disorders.

Hansen called the idea of proceeding with the poultry modernization rule “reckless” given the current rash of injuries across the industry. “The USDA must pull this rule and take a hard look at how to improve safety in our nation’s poultry plants,” he said. “This NIOSH report is both a wakeup call and a warning sign.”

By increasing line speed so dramatically, workers will be at heightened risk of repetitive motion related injuries. Despite this fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has yet to develop a standard that would adequately protect workers.

Hansen said the rule should be scrapped until poultry workers can be guaranteed a safe work environment.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

 

103 Years Later: Unions Still Fight to Improve Safety Standards at Work

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn March 25, 1911, a fire spread through the cramped floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.  When the workers—mostly young female immigrants—tried to escape, they encountered locked doors and broken fire escapes.  Rather than be burned alive, the workers began jumping out of windows and fell to their deaths on the street below as bystanders watched in horror.

While decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions, too many workers here in the U.S. and around the world continue to be killed on the job, or suffer from injuries, sickness or diseases in their places of work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 4,000 workers in the U.S. lost their lives on the job in 2012.  Just last year, our sisters and brothers in Bangladesh were told to report to work in a building that had severe structural cracks and lost their lives when the factory collapsed, and here in the U.S., 14 workers lost their lives when a fertilizer plant that had been cited for safety violations exploded in in Texas.  Six years ago, managers at the Imperial Sugar Company in Port Wentworth, Georgia, tolerated dirty and dangerous worksite conditions, and 14 workers without a collective voice died in a massive fire and explosion.  And 23 years ago, 25 poultry workers at the Imperial Foods plant in Hamlet, North Carolina, were locked inside by their bosses and died in a horrible fire. Like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers, they had no voice on the job to demand safety improvements.

Workers everywhere deserve a safe place to work, and those corporations that exploit workers for profit and put them in danger must be held accountable.  Today, on the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, we take to heart the words of activist Mother Jones to “pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” by reaffirming our dedication to supporting workers here in the U.S. and around the world who are struggling to protect their basic rights – including safe jobs, workplace fairness and collective bargaining.