Summer begins, workers feel the heat
Workers who are outside – construction workers, farmworkers, landscapers, roofers, baggage handlers, and others – are facing some brutal conditions out there, conditions that can do far more damage than just make us uncomfortable. High heat can cause body temperature to rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. OSHA has created a Heat Safety Tool for smartphones on the Apple and Android platforms that can calculate the heat index in your location and deliver site-specific information about your risks, and it can tell you what steps to take to keep cool.

Studies: Increasing the minimum wage during times of high unemployment doesn’t hurt job growth
Opponents of minimum wage increases contest that raising the minimum wage will be costly for businesses and have a negative effect on job growth and employment. An analysis by the Center for American Progress’ Nick Bunker, David Madland, and the University of North Carolina’s T. William Lester, however, found five recent studies showing that increasing the minimum wage — even during periods of high unemployment — does not have a negative effect on job growth.

Working for working women
Millions of working women struggle to make ends meet every day. Although women now make up close to half of the national workforce, they substantially outnumber men in holding low-wage jobs.

Paid paternity leave far from reality in United States
Many of the young fathers who celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday are more interested than ever in taking an active care-giving and social role in their children’s lives, according to studies cited in a new report by the National Partnership for Women and Families. But especially in the tight economy, relatively few fathers have access to paid family leave after the birth of a child or when a child is sick, and too few fathers even have unpaid job-protected leave to deal with family emergencies and responsibilities.

Two worlds: waiters who starve, and those who don’t
Our food comes at great expense to the workers who provide it. “The biggest workforce in America can’t put food on the table except when they go to work,” says Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-U). All this comes because of the pathetic “special minimum wage”–$2.13 an hour–paid to restaurant workers.

Youth sex workers organize for their rights
When youth who live on the streets and work in the sex trade or other informal economies are victimized or abused, often the institutions that are supposed to help them—the police, hospitals and clinics, social service and non-profit agencies, homeless shelters—do more harm than good. A recent report by the Young Women’s Empowerment Project in Chicago quantifies and analyzes this problem and describes and promotes a two-pronged solution wherein youth develop their own systems and networks for self-help and healing while also working with institutions to provide better services.

Lohan’s ‘Liz & Dick’ checked by 2 guilds for workplace safety; producer says all is ‘fine’
Two Hollywood unions are scrutinizing worker safety and welfare on Lindsay Lohan’s TV movie “Liz & Dick” after the actress tweeted that she was exhausted because of long production days. Lohan was treated last week by paramedics for exhaustion and dehydration. She posted on Twitter: “Note to self… After working 85hours in 4days, and being up all night shooting, be very aware that you might pass out from exhaustion & … 7 paramedics MIGHT show up.”

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Wages continue to fall in value as workers are underpaid and overworked
These are anxious days for American workers. Many, like Ms. Woods, are underemployed. Others find pay that is simply not keeping up with their expenses: adjusted for inflation, the median hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was a decade earlier, according to data from a forthcoming book by the Economic Policy Institute, “The State of Working America, 12th Edition.”

Kentucky coal mine officials asked to submit plan for paying $1.5M in overdue fines for safety violations
Two House Democrats are asking company officials for a Kentucky mine where five miners died and for another mine that was shut down after a safety blitz to submit a plan for paying $1.5M in overdue fines to the federal government.

Transit safety still lags
It took two Washington Metro trains slamming into each other and nine deaths to reveal dangerous lapses in America’s public transportation systems. But three years after that deadly June accident, the outcry about safety continues. The country’s second-largest public transit agency has worked to bolster safety measures, but financial hurdles and oversight confusion have slowed improvements. The problems reflect a startling reality in public transportation: No one’s really watching.

More ill Hanford, PNNL workers may be paid
A compensation program for ill nuclear workers won key approval Tuesday to ease rules for $150K payments to additional Hanford workers or their survivors. A federal advisory board meeting in Santa Fe, N.M., voted to recommend that the eased rules, which are allowed for groups designated special exposure cohorts, be extended to workers at the site through 1983.

OSHA cites Tribe Mediterranean Foods following death of Fall River man at Taunton plant
The Taunton-based Tribe Mediterranean Foods faces $702K in proposed fines following an investigation into the workplace death of a Fall River man last year. Daniel Collazo Torres, 28, a Fall River resident, was crushed to death on Dec. 16, 2011 while cleaning and sanitizing a machine used to manufacture hummus at Tribe’s Taunton plant.

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Supreme Court says drug companies don’t have to pay sales reps overtime
Pharmaceutical companies don’t have to pay overtime to their salespeople, the Supreme Court said in a 5-4 decision Monday. Federal law requires most employers to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours per week, but the requirement does not apply to anyone who is employed as an “outside salesman.”

Wage theft a growing epidemic in the US
A new report from the Progressive States Network shows that there are few states that are even attempting to seriously deal with the problem of wage theft from workers and most states do a terrible job of dealing with the rampant problem. 44 of 50 states and the District of Columbia did not receive passing grades on their policies for dealing with wage theft. Only two states — New York and Massachusetts — even got a grade as high as a “C.” Nine states were so bad they earned an “F-.”

Alpha Natural Resources’ mine safety has improved, prosecutors say
Alpha Natural Resources has significantly cut its accident and injury rates in the six months since a landmark $210 million settlement that spared the company criminal charges over the 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 workers, federal prosecutors say. Alpha cut its accident rate by a third and its injury rate by 25 percent at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine and other former Massey Energy Co. operations.

Kentucky surface miners hit hard by black lung, study finds
Long linked to underground coal mining, black-lung disease also strikes miners who work above ground — hitting hardest in the Kentucky region. Those are the findings of a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first assessment in a decade of black-lung disease in surface miners.

Workplace toxics reveal the beauty industry’s ugly side
You shouldn’t have to suffer to be beautiful. But many women suffer for the beauty of others, polishing nails and styling hair with a toxic pallette of chemicals. Working long hours amid noxious fumes, salon workers, typically women of color, are in constant contact with chemicals linked to various illnesses and reproductive health problems. While environmental justice campaigns have historically focused on localized pollution issues, the National Healthy Nail & Beauty Salon Alliance organizes around the intersection of workplace environmental health and racial and economic justice.

Safety and health in the theater: keeping tragedy out of the comedies…and musicals…and dramas
While the theater provides entertainment, the preparation and production of live performances can also pose hazards to those working in all aspects of the theater –from actors on stage to set designers behind the scenes and musicians in the orchestra pit. Data from the Bureau of Labor statistics show that injuries involving days away from work among occupations related to the theater increased from a low of 870 in 2006 to a high of 1,570 in 2008.

Texas Industries allegedly ordered drug test before helping injured worker: lawsuit
A Texas-based cement company denied on Monday that it ordered a drug test before calling paramedics last year after a employee hurt himself in a fall. The worker, 67-year-old Benino Perez, later died from his injuries. In a lawsuit filed in Dallas County Court last week, Perez’s family alleges that his employer, Texas Industries, sought to drug test Perez before trying to help him after he’d fallen from a height of several feet. Perez worked as a loader for the company.

OSHA fines Norfolk Southern $802K
A Norfolk Southern Corp. subsidiary was fined more than $800K Monday by the U.S. Labor Department, which said the railroad company violated laws protecting “whistleblowers” when it fired three workers.

Upstate NY plant hit with $233K in OSHA fines
Federal workplace safety officials have hit hair care manufacturer Zotos International with fines of $233K for hazards at its upstate New York plant. Hazards included unguarded moving machine parts, electrical hazards, a blocked exit door, unqualified employees working on live electrical parts, failing to develop safety plans and inadequate training of employees.

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Ralph Nader: 30 million workers would benefit from raising minimum wage to 1968 level
In 2008, Barack Obama pledged to raise the minimum wage every year once elected, but the hourly rate of $7.25 hasn’t increased since 2007. Low-wage workers now make far less than they did four decades ago. Last week Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. introduced The Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2012. It draws its name from the idea that the federal minimum wage would be $10.55 an hour now if it had kept up with inflation over the past 40 years.

Minimum wage laws 100 years later
This week marks the 100th anniversary of the nation’s first minimum wage law, adopted in Massachusetts in 1912.

Senate OK’s worker-safety bills sponsored by Staten Island’s Savino
Two worker safety bills sponsored by state State Sen. Diane Savino have passed the Senate. The first bill would establish the crime of vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in an active work zone and intrusion into an active work zone. The second bill, which Ms. Savino sponsored with state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), would equate attacking a social worker or prison guard with assault on a police officer by establishing a second-degree assault charge punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Military suicides on record pace, outnumbering battlefield deaths
New figures show this year’s military suicide rate is on pace to reach a record high. The Pentagon says there have been at least 154 suicides among active-duty troops through last Thursday, a rate of nearly one each day. The figure marks an 18 percent increase over the same period a year ago. More U.S. soldiers have died by taking their own lives than been killed on the battlefield.

Frack sand mining boom: silica dust, air quality, and human health
“It’s basically strip mining,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) environmental engineer Rick Wulk, describing the sand mining activity that has exploded across western Wisconsin since 2010. Mining silica and quartz and processing it into industrial sand is big business these days because this sand is an important component of hydraulic fracturing operations that extract natural gas from shale.

As Qatar builds for the World Cup, its workers face abuse
Hundreds of thousands of mostly South Asian migrant construction workers in Qatar risk serious exploitation and abuse, sometimes amounting to forced labor, Human Rights Watch said in a report. Both the government and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) need to make sure that their commitments to respect workers’ rights in preparation for the 2022 World Cup are carried out.

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Most states flunk wage theft test
A new report from the Progressive States Network (PSN) finds that workers in 44 states have little to no protection against wage theft. “Where Theft Is Legal: Mapping Wage Theft Laws in the 50 States” reports that states’ wage theft laws are grossly inadequate, contributing to a rising trend in workplace violations that affect millions of people throughout the country.

Why chicken is getting safer to eat, more dangerous to produce
Newly-drafted USDA regulations aimed at protecting public health may make poultry safer to eat, but there’s a trade-off that puts worker health and safety on the line.

Assessing consumer concerns about the meat industry
On Thursday’s Fresh Air, Tom Philpott, who covers food and the agricultural industry for Mother Jones, joins Fresh Air’s Terry Gross for a wide-ranging discussion about the meat and poultry industries — covering topics like pink slime, proposed legislation affecting antibiotics in the livestock food chain, labor issues within the meat industry, and the practice of feeding “chicken litter” to cows, which raises concerns about passing along bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the food chain.

Olympics crackdown on sex trade condemned by Stop the Arrests
Brooke Magnanti, the author better known by her alias, the fictional call girl Belle de Jour, has warned that the policing of sex workers in the run-up to the Olympics is putting their lives at risk. Sex workers claim the police tactics are stopping them from reporting crime

Airflow problems plague CDC bioterror lab
A $214M bioterror germ lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has had repeated problems with airflow systems designed to help prevent the release of infectious agents, government documents and internal e-mails show. CDC engineers have raised written concerns about the air containment systems since at least 2010.

Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and ambassadors of Honduras, the Philippines, Peru and Ecuador sign agreements on migrant worker rights
During a ceremony at U.S. Department of Labor headquarters in Washington, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis signed partnership agreements with ambassadors representing the embassies of Honduras, the Philippines, Peru and Ecuador. Under the agreements, regional enforcement offices of the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and its Wage and Hour Division will cooperate with local consulates of the four countries. Together, the consulates and Labor Department agencies will reach out to migrant workers with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws.

Greek workers choose working without pay over no work at all
A growing number of Greek workers are facing a stark choice: Work for no pay, or risk never getting paid again. An increasing number of Greek companies and institutions cannot pay their employees, creditors, and others because they aren’t being paid either — particularly by the government and other businesses, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Another suicide at Apple-linked manufacturing plant in China
A 23-year-old Chinese Foxconn worker jumped to his death on Wednesday — the latest in a series of suicides at the Apple supplier’s plant that had rights’ groups worldwide voicing concern. The death is the first since the company said it would improve conditions for workers.

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House GOP blocking abortion access for soldiers who are raped
Republican Senators John McCain, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins all support an effort by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, to expand abortion access for military women who are raped. But despite bipartisan support in the Senate, Shaheen’s proposal may not make it into the final version of the 2013 defense authorization bill—because House Republicans oppose it.

U.S. military, experts working to curb suicides
Mental-health experts, the U.S. military, the groups that aid returning service members, their families are trying to provide a sense of support for veterans and active-duty troops in an attempt to prevent the growing number of suicides. American troops have been taking their own lives in alarmingly increasing numbers over this past decade at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tougher labor rules to protect children at farms fail
The federal government and safety groups are working to build awareness of farm hazards after a Labor Department decision to withdraw regulations that would have restricted children’s work on farms. Opposition from farm groups and farm-state members of Congress helped scuttle the proposal, which would have barred those younger than 16 who were being paid from using power-driven equipment such as tractors. Those under 18 would have been unable to work at grain elevators, silos and feedlots. The rules would not have applied to children working at farms owned by their parents but would have prevented youngsters from some jobs for pay at neighbors’ and relatives’ farms.

Lawmaker calls for convenience store safety regulations
An Indiana legislator is calling for mandatory safety regulations at convenience stores where late-night employees are at high risk for harm. Rep. Ed Delaney, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said convenience stores that fail to invest in security measures to protect their workers have an unfair economic advantage over those that do. Delaney made the call for state legislation that would mandate safety measures at high-risk convenience stores, following a meeting where state labor officials recommended some of those measures be adopted voluntarily.

The 20 million
Help wanted: Salary: $19K (some may be withheld or stolen). No health insurance, paid sick days or paid vacation. Opportunity for advancement: nearly nil.

WHO’s cancer agency: Diesel fumes cause cancer
Diesel fumes cause cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency declared Tuesday, a ruling it said could make exhaust as important a public health threat as secondhand smoke. He said the fumes affected groups including pedestrians on the street, ship passengers and crew, railroad workers, truck drivers, mechanics, miners and people operating heavy machinery.

NIEHS renews study call for Gulf oil spill workers; residents still waiting for services
Unfortunately for those who fear the spill or its cleanup made them sick, there’s a massive dearth in research on the health effects of being exposed to oil spills and the chemical dispersants used to clean them up. It’s a serious problem and one that makes it incredibly difficult — if not impossible — for those affected to be compensated for related health claims. Just a few weeks ago in late May, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin put out a call to help fill the glaring gap. TV, radio and internet ads now feature Benjamin on oil spill clean-up workers to take part in the national Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study (the GuLF Study), the largest study of its kind to examine long-term health consequences among oil spill clean-up workers and volunteers.

Ahead of season, Pop Warner renews safety emphasis
In an attempt to cut down on concussion-related injuries, Pop Warner football announced Tuesday that it was banning head-to-head hits and limiting contact in practice to 40 minutes a day. But already there is debate among coaches about whether the measures go too far or not far enough.

GEO Group fined $104K, accused of allowing workers to be victims of violence at Miss. prison
A private prison operator that’s giving up its business in Mississippi could face up to $104,000 in fines from federal workplace safety regulators. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said GEO Group exposed employees to assaults by inmates at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Lost Gap.

US Department of Labor’s OSHA cites Zoto’s International for chemical, electrical and mechanical hazards at Geneva, NY, plant
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Zoto’s International Inc. with 44 alleged serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at the company’s Geneva manufacturing plant. The maker of hair care products faces a total of $233K in fines for a cross-section of chemical, mechanical and electrical hazards following an inspection by OSHA’s Syracuse Area Office.

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Republicans block Dems’ equal pay for women bill
Republicans filibustered Democratic-led legislation aimed at closing the pay gap between women and men. The measure would beef up protections for women who sue employers for gender-based wage discrimination or discuss pay with their co-workers — and the GOP blocked it just as it did in late 2010 when the Paycheck Fairness Act last came up. The cloture motion went down 52-47 — short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.

Remarks by the president on equal pay for equal work via conference call
I don’t have to tell you how much this matters to families across the country. All of you are working day in, day out, to support the basic principle, equal pay for equal work. And we’ve made progress. But we’ve got a lot more to do. Women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. It’s worse for African American women and Latinas. Over the course of her career a woman with a college degree is going to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less than a man who is doing the same work.

Mitt Romney mum on paycheck fairness bill
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney still won’t say whether he supports a Senate bill to ensure equal pay for women, despite fresh criticism by Democrats that his silence is hurting the legislation’s chance of becoming law. In separate calls with reporters, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) on Monday urged Romney to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would require employers to demonstrate that any salary differences between men and woman in the same job are not gender-related.

The White House’s use of data on the gender wage gap
The debate over the latest legislation to address the gap in pay between men and women is a great opportunity to explore the various ways these data are collected and often used for political purposes. There is no perfect source of data — the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics come up with different numbers even though they can draw on similar data sets — but often advocates of action will tend to pick the worst possible figure to advance their cause.

Women earn 91 cents for every dollar men earn–if you control for life choices
On its face, the gender wage gap is enormous: women working full-time earn just 77 cents for every dollar that men earn, contributing to a $431K lifetime wage gap, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the numbers don’t tell the full story.

Frack sand: An easily overlooked occupational hazard
Tap water bursting into flame, water sources contaminated with toxic chemicals, once-pastoral rural hillsides turned over to industrial fossil fuel extraction, and unprecedented earthquake activity. These are among the environmental health concerns commonly associated with the extraction of natural gas by the method known as hydraulic fracturing – or fracking. But one of the more pernicious and pervasive potential occupational fracking hazards may come from sand.

Two Central Valley deaths may be heat-related
Two workers who died on the job in the Central Valley may have been victims of heat illness, the California Department of Industrial Relations says Tuesday.

OSHA reaction from a SeaWorld trainer
I’ve long felt that trainers at SeaWorld have to be able to achieve a certain degree of cognitive dissonance to be able to say on the one hand that they love the killer whales, and on the other hand be witness to the early deaths, the tooth drilling, the sunburnt skin, the social instability and aggression, and all the other chronic effects of captivity. If Welsch’s ruling stands, perhaps it will be harder to maintain this cognitive dissonance, because the ultimate experience of working with a killer whale–waterwork–could be gone. So maybe the reality will start to trump the fantasy for more trainers.

Sex trafficking ring from Mexico to New York discovered
80 miles from the country’s capital of Mexico City, Tenancingo is considered to be the country’s epicenter for sex trafficking. Inside the three-story houses which lie inside gated communities are thriving businesses of prostitution and sex-trafficking, according to the New York Daily News. But in the past 20 years, the business has expanded well beyond the streets of Tenancingo. Sex trafficking from the Mexican city fuels much of the prostitution in New York City.

Guillermo Lopez-Molina charged with shooting co-worker with nail gun
A Hyattsville man has been arrested for shooting a co-worker with a nail gun, inflicting possibly life-threatening injuries. Witnesses told police that Lopez-Molina got into an argument with a fellow worker while framing a house in Edgewater. Afterwards, they say Lopez-Molina shot a 34-year-old Laurel man with a nail gun.

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