Grad student workers plan counterattack after Michigan Gov. signs law denying rights
Following two years of organizing and months of hearings, this month Michigan’s state labor board was set to rule on whether to reverse a 1981 decision that stripped union recognition from the state university’s graduate student research assistants (GSRAs). That ruling never happened. Instead Michigan’s House and Senate passed a bill declaring GSRAs ineligible for union recognition, and Governor Rick Snyder signed it into law on March 13.
Public meetings will be held on uranium mining in Virginia
The National Academy of Sciences will hold a series of meetings next week to brief the public on its two-year study of uranium mining in Virginia. The report said uranium could be mined but that Virginia Uranium, a company seeking to mine a massive site in Southside, would have to take measures to protect workers, the public and the environment in Virginia, which has no experience unearthing a radioactive element.
U.S. battles home builder over pay probe
In the past few years, the Obama administration has stepped up enforcement of so-called wage-and-hour requirements, investigating suspected violations in the hotel and janitorial-services industries, as well as housing construction. The building industry has accused the department of overreaching, saying that big home builders aren’t responsible for ensuring that other companies, including their subcontractors, obey labor regulations, and that the government is hindering job growth by targeting the builders.
Top notch job by OSHA staff to globally harmonize labels and datasheets for chemicals
Earlier this week, Lizzie Grossman reported here at The Pump Handle on revisions to OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard which align the agency’s 30 year old rule with a globally harmonized system for classifying and labeling chemical hazards. In “Moving from Right-to-Know to Right-to-Understand,” we learn how the changes stem from a 2002 United Nations resolution and why they should help U.S. workers better protect themselves from chemical hazards in their workplaces. I spent some time this week reading for myself the 858-page document, and by the time I got to page 20 it was clear that OSHA staff did a top notch job writing the rule.
Report: Mine safety agency ‘could have prevented’ deadly disaster
An independent review of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) enforcement at the Upper Big Branch (UBB) coal mine in West Virginia says the agency failed to spot “a number of enforcement deficiencies” at the mine which were major factors in the April 2010 explosion that took 29 lives. The report from an independent panel assembled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health contains this stunning conclusion: “…if MSHA had engaged in timely enforcement of the Mine Act…it would have lessened the chances of — and possibly could have prevented — the UBB explosion.”
Facebook says it may launch legal action against employers who ask for user passwords
With news of employers, colleges and government agencies requesting the Facebook login details of prospective employees and students, Facebook has issued a statement on the matter, highlighting that it believes the practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends,” suggesting that it could result in “unanticipated legal liability” for the parties that request it.
ACLU applauds Facebook for threatening to sue employers
Following the announcement from Facebook’s privacy chief on Friday that the social network is willing to sue to protect user accounts from the prying eyes of employers, the American Civil Liberties Union weighed in, applauding Facebook for the move, but also saying it wouldn’t be enough and that Congress needs to pass a law to prevent the practice.
Younger veterans want to work, but face roadblocks
While older veterans generally have a relatively low jobless rate, the unemployment rate for veterans who have served in the post-9/11 era averaged more than 12 percent last year, compared with under 9 percent for the general population, according to government data out last week.
Mysterious odor in baggage room at Logan Airport sickens 15 TSA workers
A hazmat situation was declared in a bag room at Logan Airport this morning after an odor was detected coming from an open bag, sending four workers to the hospital, officials said. Logan Airport spokesman Phil Orlandella said 15 Transportation Safety Administration workers complained of headaches, eye and throat irritation at 8 a.m today after the bag was opened in a baggage room in Terminal A. Four people requested to be sent to the hospital for evaluation, he said.