How Caterpillar Ruined a Union Manufacturing Success Story

Good news has been rare in the Rust Belt since the 2008 economic collapse. But in Milwaukee, the rise of Bucyrus International Inc. provided a sorely needed model of how a company with a unionized workforce can lasso in global profits. Now, the company’s new owner, Caterpillar, is threatening those gains, announcing major layoffs and failing to reach a new contract with its workers. In 2009, Bucyr...
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Mining Giant Sued Over Silicosis Epidemic

This week, the British High Court of Justice will decide whether to allow a  lawsuit  to proceed in British courts on behalf of 2,300 workers who acquired silicosis working in South African gold mines. The case, against British-based mining giant Anglo American, is just one of several silicosis lawsuits in South African and British courts brought against numerous companies by a total of 17,000 min...
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New Twinkies Will Have a Missing Ingredient: Union Labor


You'll be able to eat Twinkies again, but without the delicious knowledge that they're union-made. (Mamiejeanjean, via Wikimedia Commons)   The new owners of Twinkies snack cakes announced last week they will re-open four shuttered production plants in the coming months, but have no intention of doing business with the labor unions that have represented the workers at those bakeries for generation...
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Farmworkers Dig Into the New ‘Blue Card’ Plan


A child rallies in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Tampa, Fla., highlighting undocumented farm workers' critical role in food production.   (National Farm Worker Ministry / Flickr / Creative Commons) Last week, immigrants’ rights groups finally got the papers they’ve been waiting for, an 844-page whopper of a bill that attempts to “fix” the immigration system by promising a little...
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New York Didn’t Pull a Chicago, But Dissident Teachers Aren’t Giving Up


New York's dissident teachers caucus, the Movement of Rank-and-File Educators, protest Bloomberg's school closings plan. (MORE)   The United Federation of Teachers, the union that represents some 200,000 New York City teachers and public school workers, re-elected its president, Michael Mulgrew, and his Unity caucus to another term on Thursday, April 25. As expected, Unity, which has been in power...
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Factory Collapse in Bangladesh Exposes Cracks in the System


A Bangladeshi volunteer carries an injured garment worker from the Rana factory near Dhaka, Bangladesh, after the 8-story building collapsed Wednesday.   (Munir Uz Zaman/Getty) There are few ways to make a decent living in Bangladesh, but there are many ways to die trying. The cruel weight of that reality bore down on a Dhaka factory complex on Wednesday as it crashed to the ground and instantly e...
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Obama’s West, Texas Memorial Speech: No Mention of Workplace Safety


President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the firefighters who were killed in a huge blast at a Texas fertilizer plant last week.   (Jewel Samad/ AFP / Getty Images) Today, President Obama spoke at a memorial service at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, for the 15 people who were killed in the West Chemical and Fertilize...
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More Blood on the Tracks


Workers from MTA New York City Transit renewed a section of track near Hoyt-Schermerhorn in August of 2011. Railway maintenance work, even in situations like these, can be extremely dangerous.   (Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Leonard Wiggins/Flickr) Louis Moore, 58, was working overnight on subway tracks in Astoria, New York City when he fell from a catwalk onto the tracks and was  killed ...
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Why 170-Year-Old Logic Won’t Ensure Workplace Safety


Bangladeshi garment workers march in 2011 to commemorate the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in the United States and the deaths of over 500 Bangladeshi garment workers since 1990.   (Wikimedia Commons) I think that’s wrong. Bangladesh may or may not need tougher workplace safety rules, but it’s entirely appropriate for Bangladesh to have different—and, indeed, lower—workplace safety s...
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Texas Explosion: Gov’t Shared Info for Anti-Terrorism, But Not Workplace Safety


Seven different government agencies were tasked with regulating the West, Texas fertilizer plant that exploded on April 18. (Wikimedia Commons)   The twin tragedies of last week—the Boston Marathon bombing and the West Texas Chemical and Fertilizer plant explosion—received vastly unequal media attention. While reporters pored over every detail of the Boston story (including some “facts” that turne...
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Chicago’s Fast Food Workers: “We Can’t Survive on $8.25”


Workers from Chicago fast food and retail outlets strike for improved wages, benefits and work conditions, as well as the right to unionize. (Aaron Cynic)   On a normal day, Sonia Acuña, a petite 41-year old mother of four, puts on her bright red McDonald’s cap and reports to work at a branch of the giant hamburger chain in Chicago’s main rail terminal, Union Station. But today, in cold and drizzl...
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Overworking Women: How Long Hours Lead to Gender-Segregated Jobs

The long hours Americans put in at work aren't just stressing us out, according to a new study by Dr. Youngjoo Cha of Indiana University—they're also helping keep our workplaces gender-segregated. The study, “ Overwork and the Persistence of Gender Segregation in Occupations ,” published in the journal   Gender & Society, found that “[T]he norm of overwork in male-dominated workplaces and the ...
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In Zero Sum Game, Rick Perry Courts Illinois Businesses


Rick Perry's attempts to woo Illinois businesses, such as this ad in Crain's Chicago Business, could prompt Illinois to give corporations costly tax breaks.   Texas Gov. Rick Perry rode into Chicago this week in an effort to lasso Illinois-based businesses and herd them to the Lone Star State. At a press conference on Monday , Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met the visit with derision. "I hope when he...
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All Work, No Pay

Joe Griego figures the bull was done with him in about 10 seconds. It was the longest 10 seconds of his life. On Nov. 22, 2008, he was finishing his shift at Tres Hermanos Dairy in Veguita, south of Albuquerque, when a recalcitrant bull refused to return to its pen. When Griego turned to ask a co-worker to help, the bull took advantage. “They say bulls are cowards,” he says. “They’ll attack when y...
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How Soon Will West, Texas Be Forgotten?


The April 18 fertilizer plant explosion In West, Texas. (Erich Schlegel/Getty Images).   On Friday, as cable news networks sought desperately to fill airtime while waiting for the latest news in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, a friend asked me, “How come there’s no manhunt for the  owner of the Texas factory , which did far more damage than the Boston bombers?” He was right to wonder. The  ...
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