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Archive for the ‘United Steelworkers’ Category

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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On November 28 two workers died as a result of an explosion and fire at an Enbridge Energy oil pipeline terminal in Clearbrook, MN.

On December 1st, just two days later, at the Marathon Oil refinery in St. Paul Park, MN an explosion and fire at a 10,000 barrel tank claimed the life of another worker. 

Our sympathy goes out to the families and coworkers of all three employees who gave their lives for their job.

It is frustrating and disappointing that with the technology available and the really deep pockets of the oil industry that these tragedies still happen. WorkdayMinnesota has a story about oil refinery hazards and the efforts of the United Steelworkers union to raise awareness and encourage action to prevent further tragic accidents. The USW recently released a report from an extensive survey they did about Process Safety Management in the oil industry. While I must confess I have not read the entire 108 page report yet it shows the need for more emphasis on the industry to comply with the PSM standard that was implemented in 1992 by OSHA. Progress has been slow since the 2005 Texas City, Texas refinery blast that killed 15 and injured over 100 people. The USW report shows that the lessons learned from Texas City are not being widely implemented.

The Sky Blue Waters Report, a blog written by Tom Elko, has an informative piece about oil pipeline expansions and safety.

There is much more to write on this subject but I will get to that later.

Good night!

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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“It’s to late for us, but it isn’t to late for our children and grandchildren to have a better life”.

Those are the emotional words of Mary Stodola of Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota as she testified before legislators at a public hearing on June 28 in Mountain Iron regarding the Minnesota Department of Health’s  withholding of information about asbestos related  cancer among taconite miners. Her husband has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and faces a deadly future.

I first wrote about this on June 22 where I suggested that Governor Pawlenty should ask for the resignation of Commissioner Mandernach. She is still there and the Governor seems more interested in his national aspirations. The good news to come out of the hearing is that the Universtiy of Minnesota will take over the study of the mesothelioma-related deaths. Congressman Jim Oberstar  in a letter to the International Falls Daily Journal has pledged to do whatever he could do on the federal level to secure funding for the study. He also said that he was not aware of any attempts by the MDH to secure federal funding. The bad news is that so far no one is being held accountable for the year long delay in the release of the information.

State Senator John Marty (DFL) has a very good commentary on this issue on the Workday Minnesota website. Here are a few paragraphs:

Commentary: Health Department cover-up – mistake or malfeasance?

By Senator John Marty

9 July 2007

ST. PAUL – “If this is leaked in any way and there is some digging by the media, we will have hell to pay…”
The MN Department of Health’s decision not to disclose additional mesothelioma deaths among iron miners is not a “mistake” that an apology will fix.

 Commissioner Mandernach repeatedly has stated that they did not want to release the information about health risks to the miners until the administration had “all their ducks in a row.” Forget about the Pawlenty administration’s ducks. How about showing some concern for the miners and their families?

No, this was not a mistake. It was a cynical attempt to protect the Pawlenty administration’s political interests. It is time for Commissioner Mandernach, and the those in the Governor’s office who were involved, to be dismissed.

Read the entire commentary here.

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There are several very important issues that I believe need to be resolved.

  • Senator Marty is right to call for the dismissal of Commissioner Mandernach and any other people in the Governor’s office who were involved. The credibility of the Minnesota Department of Health needs to be restored.

  • Governor Pawlenty should not get a pass on this. His history of disregard for the health and safety of working men and women is clear. The people of Minnesota need to be reminded again and again what this guy really stands for.

  • The miners need to know why 58 of their brothers died. It is good that the Universtiy of Minnesota will take over the study but there needs to be assurances that budget cuts will not cut it short. Funding should be secured.

  • All  of the stakeholders need to be involved in finding a solution to protect the health and safety of the workers. The miners and their unions are critical to this process because they are on the front lines everyday.

I hope this issue does not get “lost in the noise”, as GOP pundit, one-time governor wannabe, sockless Brian Sullivan stated June 29 on Minnesota public television’s Almanac program, (say it ain’t so, Brian).

The noise should be coming from the working men and women of this state. Call your representatives. Call the Governor. Write your local newspaper. Call or write the McCain campaign office and tell them the guy (Pawlenty) who is helping John out is no friend of a lot of people who vote.

Protect the health and safety of all workers in this state. Do Something!

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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OK, so I missed last week. I make the rules at CornerHouse so this week we will have two Dooker’s. Actually, a tie.

We expect our government agencies and officials to serve us-the public. Many of those people claim to be ‘public servants’,  or like to say they are ‘serving the public’.

Two of Minnesota’s government officials failed the ‘public servant’ test miserably this last week. Of course that would be Minnesota Commissioner of Health, Dianne Mandernach, and her boss, Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Why are they this week’s honorees?

Read on.

From the June 17, 2007 Star-Tribune

The state Health Department found that additional Iron Range miners had a deadly asbestos-related cancer, then sat on the information for a year.

By David Shaffer, Star Tribune

The Minnesota Health Department suppressed research about additional deadly cancers among Iron Range miners for a year, even though a top government scientist warned that the findings raised significant new health issues.

The department discovered in March 2006 that a rare, asbestos-related cancer had stricken 35 more miners than the 17 previously known. All of the miners have died. The state didn’t release the new information until March of this year, a decision that some health experts are now criticizing. Read the entire article here.

The news of Commisioner Manderach’s decision to withhold the information about the 35 additional miners striken with the deadly cancer known as MESOTHELIOMA immediately garnered plenty of criticism. Commisioner Manderach originally defended her actions during an MPR interview on June 18th but then issued an apology on June 20th .

Nine state legislators have sent a letter to the Governor calling for her resignation and the United SteelWorkers have called for legislative and criminal investigations. While the governor has been critical of her actions he said they don’t rise to the “level of termination”. What don’t these people get?  The Minnesota Department of Health has suffered a serious blow to its credibility and precious time was lost to secure funding for further research. Important stakeholders were shut out of the decision making process. Governor Pawlenty should ask for her immediate resignation and make it a priority to find funding instead of playing the GWBush card, ‘I didn’t know so it’s not my fault’. It is his team and he should take full responsibility.Because of their actions Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dianne Manderach and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty are the:

Big Dookers of the Week 

 

mandernach.jpg               tim-pawlenty.jpg

 

                                             

 

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