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Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category

Today at approximately 10:00 A.M. a portion of the JBS Swift plant was evacuated due to an ammonia leak. The Worthington Daily Globe was on the scene and covers the story in 40 JBS employees treated after ammonia leak.  Daily Globe photographer Brian Korthals was able to take a few pictures from the roof of  a vehicle just outside the JBS property (we watched you from the cafeteria windows).

I was one of the many evacuees who hastily left the building and fortunately was not affected by ammonia. The group of employees I was with were at the back of the property for about 35 minutes when we were told we could reenter the building through the front and proceed to the facilities cafeteria which was unaffected by the leak.  I was then able to get a better idea of what was going on because I had a good view of all the emergency vehicles that were gathered outside the front of the building. My thoughts were with the brothers and sisters who were being transported to the hospital. I hoped that they would all be ok and according to published reports most were treated and released with only a few admitted for further observation. The leak was contained and after the affected areas were cleared of the ammonia we returned to work.

UFCW Local 1161 officials were on the scene and will be actively involved in the ensuing investigation of the cause of the leak and the effectiveness of the evacuation. I have my own observations and thoughts which I will share with the Local 1161 and JBS Swift.

Ammonia leaks are serious.

They can be deadly.

Once the cause of this leak is accurately determined, it is extremely important that preventative measures be taken to prevent its recurrence. A critical look at evacuation procedures is also necessary to determine if the evacuation could have been done better. Hopefully the end result will be a safer workplace.  Of course, I am sure MNOSHA will have a role in the investigation. The state OSHA officials investigated an ammonia leak at this plant in January of 2008 which resulted in the JBS Swift receiving a citation and a nominal fine. I wrote about that incident in a previous post, JBS Swift workers evacuated. Workers were evacuated and hospitalized during that incident also and the cause of the leak was determined to be a faulty valve.

I have been involved in several evacuations over the years and once got a shot of ammonia.  My eyes, nose, throat and lungs were immediately in distress and I couldn’t get fresh air fast enough. I turned out ok (well, some may say my brain was affected). It is something I will never forget. I do not live in fear of an ammonia leak but I am acutely aware of its deadly potential. I hope I never experience another one.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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If you want to do a compare and contrast about card check and the secret ballot method of organizing a union in the workplace, Workday Minnesota’s recent post, Videos about the Employee Free Choice Act, offers two informative videos produced by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service.

 

The first one shows a successful voluntary card check while the second is a grim reminder of how poorly the present system works.

 

 

 

 

 

There has been much hysteria about the Employee Free Choice Act and many in the main stream media have been too lazy to find out what works and what doesn’t work. Or, maybe they just don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them.

 

Corporate America has amassed a huge war chest to campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act. In an effort to get the truth out about this critical legislation the AFL-CIO has established the Turn Around America Fund. Please consider a contribution today. Help bring prosperity to all of America.

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Peace & solidarity,

CHC 

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Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District Congressman Tim Walz drove to the end of the world district today (a few minutes more and he would have been in South Dakota)  for a listening session about the economic stimulus package recently passed the the U.S. House of Representatives. One of several throughout the 1st district over the last couple of days, the event in Luverne was well attended. walz-luverne-jan-30-09-aLocal elected officials, school administrators, business people from the private sector, ag interests, social workers, organized labor and concerned citizens were there to hear what the congressman had to say and to ask questions and share their concerns.

Congressman Walz was straightforward about the seriousness of the

Congressman Walz making a point.

Congressman Walz making a point.

economic crisis we face as a nation as well as the pros and cons of the stimulus package. He would have preferred more infrastructure spending (as do I) but also touted the fact that the transparency measures are unprecedented. The congressman and his staff received valuable input on projects from the assembled crowd and will use that information to pass on to state government officials who will eventually receive the stimulus money and be tasked with its distribution. They will also use the information gathered today in Luverne and from previous listening sessions to help shape the final look of the stimulus package. The Senate will deal with the legislation next and eventually the two legislative bodies will have to reach an agreement on the final package. Representative Walz  says this will all be done by February 15 but there is still time for citizen input.  A Bluestem Prairie has a summary of the plan posted here.

I continue to be impressed with the Congressman’s willingness and eagerness to constantly get out and meet with the people he represents. There may be more voters  in Rochester and Mankato but he also came to Luverne because he sincerely wants to represent all the people of the 1st District.

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Oh, just one more thing. My youngest of five grandchildren, at 11 months, had his first face to face meeting with a congressman. It was a proud moment.

what-do-you-mean-ive-got-to-pay-for-this-mess

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Chicago based company, Republic Windows, shut down its operations on Friday, December 5, after giving employees just a three day notice. Workers  have occupied the plant since the shutdown and plan on staying there until they see some justice. The company has said that Bank of America will not let them honor their commitments to the employees. The Chicago Tribune reports that Bank of America said in a statement that it isn’t responsible for Republic’s financial obligations to its employees.

Perhaps that is what Congress should have said to B of A when they had their hand out. We are not responsible for your financial obligations!

Republic Windows also needs to come clean on when it knew it was going to have to eventually shut its doors. It is just to easy for Republic Windows  and Bank of America to point the finger of blame at each other while the worker gets screwed. 

Read the Chicago Tribune story, watch the video below and take action to hold Bank of America accountable by clicking on this link to send an email to the bank that got 25 Billion from us taxpaying folks so there lives wouldn’t be disturbed.

 

 

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Wal-Mart has once again become the symbol of our nations over-zealous consumerism. The BlackFriday death of Jdimytai Damour is tragic and my heart goes out to his family. Many words have been written and spoken about this event. Brian Ojanpa of the Mankato Free Press writes about the event in his column, Black Friday finally claims a life.

Ojanpa writes:

“The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority,” Wal-Mart lawyerly intoned post-stampede.

OK, then, prove it by doing this: No more whipping waiting mobs into a shark frenzy by teasing them with pulse-quickening prices on purposely rationed items.

Go read the rest of his opinion piece here

The death of this worker was preventable. The barbaric crowd bears some responsibility for this death but the police in Long Island will find it difficult to bring criminal charges against anyone. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, has a legal responsibility to provide a safe workplace and failed dismally in this case.

CNN reports that UFCW Local 1500 President Bruce Both has called Wal-Mart’s actions, “blatant irresponsibility”. 

This incident reminded me of a song I downloaded a few years back by MC Lars called Wal-Mart Nation.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Sign the petition here

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka delivered this fiery speech at the United Steelworkers convention in July of this year. Take the time to watch it. It is worth it.

 

 

Peace & solidartiy,

CHC

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