Public Citizen to government officials: Stop awarding taxpayer dollars to unsafe companies
Throughout the United States, government agencies at the state, local and federal levels routinely award construction contracts to companies known to be unsafe, Public Citizen said in a report published today. The report, called “Contract Killers,” highlights cases in which companies with suspect safety records win government contracts around the country, often with disastrous consequences.
Child labor rules opposed by ag-friendly Dems
Republicans have stepped up their efforts to block new rules from the Obama administration that would limit the work kids can do on farms, getting a boost from a small handful of Democrats who say they’re opposing the regulations in the name of family farmers. GOP members of both the House and Senate introduced bills this month that would preempt regulations proposed by the Labor Department forbidding kids under 16 from doing certain agricultural duties deemed too dangerous. The Senate version quickly found a backer in Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), the first Democrat to sign on as co-sponsor. Tester and fellow Democratic Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have joined 39 Senate Republicans in opposing the new rules.
Citing ‘tradition,’ Big Ag fights reforms for child farmworkers
America’s farm workers have always had it tough, toiling for endless hours in the fields under brutal conditions. But those workers do benefit from a unique income subsidy in the country’s industrial farming system: children. In every region of the country, bountiful harvests are regularly gathered by the tender hands of child poverty: several hundred thousand kids work on farms, typically to help their families survive.
Federal OSHA penalties 101: Stuck in a time warp
In 1991, Dan Quayle was US Vice President, General Norman Schwarzkopf led the 100-hour assault known as Operation Desert Storm, and Phil Collins had the record of the year. It was the last (and only) time that the US Congress amended the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) to update the monetary penalty amounts that could be assessed to employers who violate worker safety regulations.
Apple supplier in China pledges big changes in working conditions
Foxconn, which manufactures more than 40 percent of the world’s electronics for such companies as Apple, Dell, Amazon and others, has pledged to sharply curtail the number of working hours within its Chinese factories and significantly increase wages, a move that could improve working conditions across China.
CEO pay rises again in 2011, while workers struggle to find work
Executives who successfully steered their companies through the quagmire of recession are now reaping their rewards — although some CEOs might have hoped there would be more. As companies get healthier, employees’ average pay rises and stock prices soar, 2011 brought a year of slight raises for CEOs. While another year of raises comes off one of the biggest increases ever for executive pay in 2010, it wasn’t the bonanza CEOs have seen in prior years. Meanwhile, unemployment remains high for most workers.
OSHA fines Gainesville poultry plant for safety hazards
A Gainesville poultry processor faces $187k in fines after a federal investigation turned up 11 alleged safety violations. Two “repeat” violations include allowing untrained workers to assist with and perform conveyor belt adjustments, and operating the conveyor belt system without machine guards that would protect workers from rotating parts, flying chips and sparks.
NY factory owner where worker died is arrested
The owner of a Brooklyn tortilla factory where a worker died after falling into a waist-high dough mixing machine has been arrested. Erasmo Ponce was charged with underpaying employees, falsifying business records, violating workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance laws.
Former head of The Acadia Hospital David Proffitt fired from Minnesota post
David Proffitt, the embattled director of the crisis-ridden Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter, was fired Tuesday by state officials, who cited his inability to communicate with his staff. Soon after his arrival last fall from a hospital post in Maine, Proffitt found himself at odds with various groups who, in interviews with the Star Tribune, said he lacked a clear vision of how to turn around a hospital described in an internal report as unsafe, unaccountable and dysfunctional. That report, obtained by the Star Tribune last year, said regulators found a “pattern” of willful violations by staff and administrators who were incapable of changing the culture.