As mine protections fail, black lung cases surge
A joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found that incidence of the disease that steals the breath of coal miners doubled in the last decade, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Black lung experts and mine safety advocates have warned of the resurgence of the disease since 1995. New reporting by CPI and NPR reveals the extent to which federal regulators and the mining industry failed to protect coal miners in the intervening years.
Dust reforms stalled by years of inaction
For more than a quarter-century, government efforts to end deadly black lung disease have hit various brick walls, built by opposition from one side or the other. Industry lobbyists object that tougher dust limits and more rigorous sampling requirements go too far. Labor leaders complain those same proposals are far too weak. Miners are left with the same system that experts have agreed hasn’t worked for decades.
Black lung disease, once on the brink of extinction, is back. Thank the coal industry.
In February 1969, miners in West Virginia launched an illegal wildcat strike. The action halted extraction for half of the mines in the northern part of the state for days. The miners had one demand: end black lung disease. The action worked. But new research into the disease by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity reveals that black lung is far from eradicated.
Forced labor on American shores
It is time to banish the idea that forced labor and sweatshop exploitation are problems of bygone eras or distant countries. These conditions exist within America’s borders. New rules protecting workers’ rights were supposed to have taken effect in April, but have been blocked after business owners sued the Department of Labor and a group of senators from both parties shamefully voted to deny the department funding to enforce them.
Wal-Mart’s dirty partners
Wal-Mart’s low prices come at a high cost. You can measure it in environmental impact, crowded-out competitors or its employees’ miserly benefits. Or you can consider Wal-Mart’s other army: workers employed by Wal-Mart’s contractors and subcontractors, whose labor makes Wal-Mart possible and whose working conditions are shaped by the company’s lust for savings. As Wal-Mart celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, some of them are raising alarms.
Labor activists peer into shadows of Apple’s factory empire
Our gadgets and tablets make our lives easier, but those palm-sized miracles of convenience are built by hard work in a metastisizing global chain of low-wage labor. Apple has received much criticism lately over the exploitation of workers in China, particularly at the manufacturing behemoth Foxconn, where several worker suicides have stirred public outrage. But Apple’s power over China’s assemblyline workforce extends to many other suppliers. A new report by China Labor Watch drills down to the lesser-known plants that piece together our hand-held devices.
DOJ probing whether ‘Fast and Furious’ whistleblowers are safe from retaliation
The Justice Department’s inspector general is probing whether two federal agents could face retaliation for blowing the whistle on operation “Fast and Furious.” In a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), made public on Monday, IG Michael Horowitz said he was investigating their concerns that two federal officials could be at risk of retaliatory action for speaking out against the botched gun-tracking operation.
Jobs report’s thin silver lining: real wages are rising
There was one bright spot in this morning’s monthly nonfarm jobs report: wages are rising. As per the nonfarm payrolls report from the BLS, average hourly wages rose 6 cents, to $23.50. That’s up 2% from a year ago.
A grueling course for training Marine officers will open its doors to women
This was one sequence in the Combat Endurance Test, the opening exercise in the Marine Corps’ Infantry Officer Course — one of the most redoubtable male-only domains in the American military. And this session of the course could be the last male-only class. Beginning in September, the corps says, female officer volunteers will participate here, part of a study to gauge the feasibility of allowing female Marines to serve in more extensive combat roles.
Feds investigate Oshkosh crane collapse
Federal workplace safety officials are investigating the collapse of a crane on an expressway bridge near Oshkosh yesterday that killed a worker and injured another.