In China, human costs are built into an iPad
Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history. However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
State of the Union address barely mentions unions
Tuesday night, President Obama gave his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress—but barely mentioned unions. The president did touch on a number of issues important to workers—such as increasing manufacturing in America, taxing the rich more equitably, increasing education funding and increasing enforcement of trade laws—but said nothing about increased attacks on workers’ rights around the country during the last 12 months.
D.C. fire chief to push for controversial change in firefighters’ work shifts
Dozens of District firefighters showed their displeasure with proposed changes to their schedules by standing at attention and marching off in unison after their chief’s “state of the department” speech Tuesday. Kenneth B. Ellerbe, chief of the city’s Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said he will fight for a change from the current 24-72 system, in which firefighters work for 24 hours and then rest for three days, toward a 3-3-3 schedule — three consecutive 12-hour shifts during the day, three consecutive 12-hour shifts at night and then three days of rest.
Did Warren Buffet-owned company’s prison-made product break U.S. law?
Earlier this month, a company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway—Shaw Industries Group Inc.—admitted to violating Canadian law by shipping flooring made by U.S. prison labor into Canada. But a prison industry expert tells In These Times that the company may have also broken American law by not clearly labeling its goods as partly deriving from prison labor.
Super Bowl players should stand up for Indiana workers
Just two weeks before Super Bowl XLVI kicks off at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, more than10,000 people marched through the city to protest right-to-work legislation that is being pushed through the state’s legislature. The legislation passed the state Senate this week and the state House today, and is backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). Considering the NFL nearly lost its 2011 season, and Super Bowl XLVI with it, to a labor dispute, Indiana Republicans’ assault on workers is a cause the players should be familiar with.
‘Get a job’? Not so easy for teens, as adults snap up openings
Even as the economy slowly picks up, finding a job is harder than ever for teenagers, according to a national study released on Tuesday. That’s likely because the jobs that are being “created” in recent months are being snapped up by adults—often people over age 50 who were laid off from other positions or forced out of retirement during the economic crisis. Meanwhile, funding for youth jobs has suffered because of state and local budget crises, and significant “stimulus” funding for youth jobs and training under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has now expired.
OSHA: Companies not at fault for girls’ deaths
Neither the company that hired them nor the seed company it contracted with are responsible in the electrocutions of two 14-year-old Sterling detasselers, OSHA said Wednesday. “No evidence” suggests either R&J Enterprises of Illinois or Monsanto could have known about the safety hazard, which apparently was caused after lightning struck a field irrigation system, leaving it “energized,” the Occupational Health and Safety Administration said at the conclusion of its 6-month investigation.
Connecticut construction company faces up to $169,000 in workplace safety fines
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigators said Penney Construction of Hartford provided no protection against a possible cave-in to workers repairing a sewer line in a 10-foot trench. Penney, accused of continuing to send workers into the trench even after being alerted to the hazard, was cited for two willful violations and five serious violations. It also was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates follow-up inspections.
OSHA accuses Ill. firm of violations in Wisconsin
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has accused an Illinois company of five safety violations at a grain-handling facility in Wisconsin. OSHA says the company knowingly failed to take steps to protect workers before they entered grain bins. Growmark is also accused of failing to provide body harnesses or rescue equipment for work inside bins.
Bill Mardo, writer who pushed baseball to integrate, dies at 88
Bill Mardo, a sportswriter for the Communist Party newspaper The Daily Worker who fought major league baseball’s color barrier in the 1940s when the mainstream American news media was largely silent on the subject, died Friday in Manhattan. In the years before the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson as the first black player in modern organized baseball, Mr. Mardo was a leading voice in a campaign by The Daily Worker against racism in the game, a battle it had begun in 1936 when Lester Rodney became its first sports editor.