We Must Do Better: Latino Workers Face Greater Risk on the Job

From our friends at the Oregon AFL-CIO

We Must Do Better:
Latino Workers Face Greater Risk on the Job

Too many Latino workers face disease, major injury and death while laboring in dangerous jobs with inadequate safeguards. In 2014, 804 Latino workers died on the job, with 64% of these fatalities being Latino workers born outside of the United States. Latino worker deaths recently have decreased even though more Latinos are working in the construction industry than ever before: Nearly 70% of new construction jobs between 2012 and 2015 were filled by Latino workers. The job fatality rate among Latino workers has declined by 38% since 2001, when the rate of Latino worker fatalities reached its highest (6.0 per 100,000 workers). But Latino workers continue to be at increased risk of death on the job, with a fatality rate that is 9% higher than for workers overall.

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The construction industry is the most deadly industry for Latino and immigrant workers, with 29% of all Latino fatalities and 26% of all immigrant fatalities occurring in this sector. Transportation accounts for 9% of Latino job-related deaths, agriculture for 8% and landscaping services for 8%. The number of Latino worker deaths in oil and gas extraction has increased more than 180% in the past five years.

Of all serious injury and illness cases that are reported, 14% are from Latino workers. Latino and immigrant workers often work in occupations with high rates of injury and in work environments where injuries are severely under-reported. For example, in 2015, an estimated 34% of meat and poultry workers were Latino, and the industry has extremely high rates of repetitive strain injuries, cuts and lacerations, falls due to wet working conditions and chemical exposures. Vulnerable workers, like Latino and immigrant workers, fear raising concerns on the job because of fear of retaliation by employers, like being assigned more dangerous work, getting fired or deported. Vulnerable workers often do not speak English, nor are they informed about their rights on the job.

This decline in Latino worker fatalities over the years did not happen by chance. Latino worker and advocacy communities demanded action from policymakers. Targeted programs informed Latino and immigrant workers that they have safety and health rights in the workplace, such as the right to demand protective controls on the job, to report unsafe working conditions and to refuse unsafe work. This increased attention also led to protective regulations and increased accessibility to training and materials in Spanish. But much more work remains to be done.

What can be done to protect Latino and immigrant working people on the job? We can:

Focus on high hazard industries with high Latino and immigrant worker populations;
Improve rights for all working people and strengthen collective bargaining laws;
Advance immigrant rights so all working people have full workplace protection; and
Strengthen whistle blower and anti-retaliation protections for reporting job injuries and hazards.

Read more about Latino and immigrant worker safety and health issues in the 2016 AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job report.

Doctors at Sacred Heart Will Head to the Picket Line – UPDATED

Doctors at Sacred Heard Will Head to Picket Line - UPDATED

Update: The hospitalists were able to settle their contract with Sacred Heart Medical Centers. http://registerguard.com/rg/business/34479121-63/story.csp

In 2015, doctors at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Centers in Springfield and Eugene made history when they became the first hospital doctors to organize a labor union. After nearly 18 months of negotiations with PeaceHealth without reaching a fair contract that prioritizes patient care, the Lane County community is poised to witness another first: hospital doctors leading an informational picket.

On Tuesday, June 7, the hospitalists at Sacred Heart—doctors who supervise patients’ care while they are in the hospital—filed notice of an informational picket to be held outside PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend on Thursday, June 23 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The hospitalists filed notice with Garvey Schubert Barer, the Seattle-based law firm representing PeaceHealth management in negotiations with the hospitalists. The hospitalists are members of the first and only hospitalist-specific union in the United States, the Pacific Northwest Hospital Medicine Association (PNWHMA).

The PNWHMA picket will highlight critical health care issues that impact patient care and safety at PeaceHealth. Contract negotiations between hospitalists and PeaceHealth are stalled due to PeaceHealth’s unwillingness to allow the hospitalists to practice medicine in the safest manner possible; with reasonable patient loads, and without interference from administrators who do not practice medicine. Administrators cannot be allowed to continue standing between physicians and their patients and dictating how many patients each physician must see per day—regardless of the complexity or circumstances of each patient’s case.

Hospitalists are fighting to ensure patient safety, to advocate for patients, and to ensure physicians are not forced to care for dangerously high numbers of patients at once.

“I always return to the golden rule of, 'If my mother was my patient, what would I want for her?’ I do not want an overworked, burned out, exhausted physician still at work after 15 hours on day 7 of their work stretch trying to manage my mother's care when she is ill. That is exactly what was happening when I came to work at Sacred Heart, and why I was proud that we could push back against the administration once we had unionized,” said Dr. Brittany Ellison, a hospitalist at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

“We unionized in order to protect our ability to always provide optimal care for those in our community and beyond who seek care at Sacred Heart. We will picket, and even go on strike if necessary, to secure a contract that ensures decisions made by administrators can never impede our freedom to act in the best interest of our patients,” said Dr. Frank Littell, a hospitalist at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

The June 23 picket will be for informational purposes. It is not a strike and Sacred Heart Medical Center will be open and operating as normal. All participants in the picket will do so on their own time. Community members are invited to participate and show support for their local doctors.

The PNWHMA was formed in October 2014 in response to PeaceHealth’s plans to outsource patient care to a private for-profit temp agency. The story of the union’s formation, the first of its kind in the US, was featured in the New York Times in January 2016 [Doctors Unionize to Resist the Medical Machine]. The hospitalists have been in negotiations with PeaceHealth for a first contract since December 2014. Negotiations have grown increasingly unproductive, with PeaceHealth negotiators flatly refusing to meet with union negotiators in the presence of supporters from other hospital unions on June 7.

The PNWHMA is part of a coalition of unions at Sacred Heart which includes the Oregon Nurses Association, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701, and the Service Employees International Union Local 49. The other coalition member unions have all sent letters of support for the hospitalists to PeaceHealth’s administration.

The PNWHMA is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) as Local 6552.

CAS Budget Memo

CAS Budget Memo

Today, CAS Dean Andrew Marcus sent the memo below to all CAS Department Heads and Program Directors. We wanted to post it as soon as we got it and more information about the upcoming budget conversations will follow soon. (Click on the image for the full document)

CAS budget memo to heads and managers_2016,Jan13

General Membership Meeting

The 2016 Winter General Membership Meeting is coming up soon. We will be discussing the upcoming legislative session in Salem, the status of our organizing campaign, and our First Year Faculty Development Program. We will also, hopefully, have a student talk with us about the recent activism on campus and how faculty can be effective allies.

As always, there will be a dinner service – a Thai-style buffet – and drinks available. There will be a play area for the youngsters.

GMM Winter 2016