Drug testing proposed for miners in wake of Upper Big Branch, despite no role in disaster
Drug testing for miners has become a crucial component of the safety legislation under consideration in West Virginia in the wake of the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, even though separate investigations have found no evidence that drug use contributed to the tragedy that claimed 29 lives in April 2010. The mine safety bill pushed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) includes mandatory random drug testing for miners who work in certified positions.
Florida minimum wage could be slashed for restaurant workers
The Florida restaurant lobby is pushing a bill that would drop the minimum wage for the state’s restaurant servers and other tipped employees from $4.65 to $2.13 an hour, creating the rare possibility of a legal wage floor being lowered rather than raised.
NYC hotel staff get panic buttons and a big pay raise
Operators of the biggest hotels in New York City have agreed to a long-term contract that will give hotel housekeepers and other employees significant pay raises, fully paid health coverage, larger pension contributions and one unusual benefit: personal panic buttons. The security devices would summon help if hotel staff encounter danger in a guest’s room — a possibility that was brought into sharp relief when a hotel housekeeper accused the French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his suite at the Sofitel New York last year.
Construction work: still deadly, still badly regulated
On any given day, some 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the nation. According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are more than 1,000 construction site deaths each year. The fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries. The four leading causes of death are: falls, electrocution, being crushed or caught between objects, and being struck by moving machinery or objects.
North Carolina employer ordered to reinstate truck driver who reported brake safety problems
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also ordered Rowan Business Forms, a Salisbury, N.C., printing company, and related entities to pay the driver more than $83,000 in back wages and damages. OSHA said it “found reasonable cause to believe” that Rowan violated the whistleblower provision of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. According to OSHA, the driver reported brake problems with a company dump truck, refused to drive it two months later for safety reasons when the problem still was not repaired, and was fired a day later.
Oversight committee report documents challenges to workplace freedom & fairness
Many workers are intentionally left unaware of their rights and subjected to threats and intimidation when they speak out against union support for political activities. Aided by Obama Administration Executive Orders and recent court cases weakening worker choice protections, unions can get around workers’ rights by inaccurately categorizing expenditures as representational—and not political—expenses.
OSHA recommends fines for Wal-Mart over NY store
The U.S. Labor Department has recommended fining Wal-Mart $365,500 after inspectors say they found 24 workplace safety violations at an upstate New York store. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it received a complaint about a Rochester store and that inspections revealed fall hazards, obstructed exit routes, an unguarded grinder and other alleged problems.
Agency cites Indiana State Fair, stagehands union, sound company in fatal stage collapse
The Indiana Occupational and Health Administration issued more than $80,000 in fines to three entities involved with deadly stage collapse at the State Fairgrounds last summer. The most serious violations were against Mid America Sound Corp. of Greenfield, which provided the stage rigging and chose the workers to erect it.
NGO workers could face 5 years in prison, Egyptian judges say
Investigative judges in Egypt said Wednesday that the Americans and Egyptians who have been charged in the government’s crackdown on U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups could face up to five years in prison for working at unlicensed organizations.
Really? The claim: long work hours can cause depression
Routinely putting in extra hours at the office can put a strain on your social life. But can too much overtime cause depression? Scientists put the question to the test in a study of more than 2,000 white-collar workers. Ultimately, the men and women who routinely worked 11 hours a day or more had more than double the risk of developing depression compared with those who usually worked eight hours or less.