Gov’t Will Pick Up Tab For West, Texas Damage; Amazon, Bikeshare in Hot Seat for Wage Theft


The blaze that followed the April 17, 2013 explosion at the West Texas Fertilizer Company. (Wikimedia Commons)   It appears that the government will be picking up the tab for the damage done by the West Texas Chemical and Fertilizer fire, since Texas does not require insurance for plants of that size. From the Dallas Morning News :  But despite the lack of any legal requirement, experts say, most ...
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As Death Toll in Bangladesh Collapse Climbs Past 1,000, Another Factory Fire Claims 8 Lives


On May 10, 2013, garment worker Reshma was rescued from the rubble, 17 days after the collapse of a Bangladeshi factory. But more than 1,000 workers were not so lucky. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)   Bodies continue to pile up at Rana Plaza, once a powerhouse of Bangladesh’s garment industry, where more than 1,000 corpses have been unearthed since a factory collapse two weeks ago (and today, another s...
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In Wake of West, Texas Explosion, Safety Advocates Recommend Harsher Fines


On average, 13 U.S. workers die a day in workplace accidents, as in this OSHA illustration of grain entrapment. (Wikimedia Commons)   “My happiness was taken away in a matter of seconds,” says Adrianna Martinez of the death of her husband, Orestes Martinez, in a workplace safety accident four years ago. “My family and I are broken.  Losing my husband, my best friend, my love has left an empty spac...
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Columbia College Chicago’s Adjunct Faculty Poised to Strike


Members of Columbia College Chicago's Part-time Faculty Association and their supporters rallied in December 2012, calling for a fair contract. (Photo via P-fac )   Unionized adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago appear poised to go on strike for the first time, with union president Diana Vallera telling In These Times that “the College has left only one path for part time faculty and that i...
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In Another Blow to NLRB, Court Says Bosses Don’t Have To Notify Workers of Rights

Yesterday, a conservative panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision that sharply undermines the power of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and, more broadly, of the government as a whole to regulate business. The ruling marks the second time this year that the court has radically undercut the NLRB. In January, the court held that Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the b...
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New CPS Board Member Vows Not To Rubber Stamp School Closings


Carlos Azcoitia, the Board of Education's newest member, is insisting on a case-by-case review of 54 schools slated for closure. (Chicago Board of Ed)   Since at least 1995, the mayor-appointed Chicago Board of Education has signed off on every proposal placed before it by the mayor's office, often with no discussion or dissent. A new board member, however, is calling for a more deliberative proce...
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Obama Aims Budget Torpedo at Merchant Mariner Unions


A merchant mariner aboard a replenishment oiler prepares to attach a cargo net to a helicopter. Unions believe the Obama administration's proposed changes to a U.S. humanitarian food aid program could mean a loss of jobs for upward of 1,200 Merchant Marine personnel .   (U.S. Navy / Flickr / Creative Commons) Washington mostly yawned last month when President Barack Obama presented his official bu...
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That Unemployment Form Might Violate Your Civil Rights


Florida's online unemployment claim form takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete, and begins with pages of warning messages.   If you think being jobless is tough, try applying for unemployment benefits. In Florida, simply filling out the form requires considerable talent and endurance. According to a recent ruling by the federal Department of Labor, the state’s new online application process is s...
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A Swank Sushi Joint Gets a May Day Scolding From Angry Workers


Striking restaurant workers protest.   ROCNY On May 1, International Worker’s Day, a half circle of Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) members and supporters surrounded the entrance to Fat Salmon, a high-end sushi restaurant in Philadelphia. They watched as Diana A. (she asked her last name not be used) walked into the restaurant to deliver a prepared statement denouncing, among other things, w...
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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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