Judy Atkins, Pres.
UE District 2
Companies are victimizing injured workers
instead of cleaning up unsafe conditions, asserted Judy Atkins, District Two as the
convention considered the resolution "For a Safe and Healthy
Delegates denounced the substitution of company
"self-inspection" schemes for monitoring by OSHA and the unjust denial of
workers compensation claims as well as the growing practice of penalizing workers
Joni Anderson, Local 1107, and her co-workers annually elect a
safety committee which conducts inspections and meets with management. "We feel that
this is a good way to fight safety problems in the plant," she said. "We have
had disciplinary problems where people have hurt themselves and we have been able to fight
this through the safety committee."
Young people coming into the workforce should be educated that they do not
have to work under unsafe and unhealthy conditions, declared Lynda Leech, Local 618.
Thomas Migdal, Local 692
Thomas Migdal, Local 692, objected that some companies are not
assigning claim numbers to workplace injuries that are compensable. And he complained that
companies that deny workers compensation claims "act like they want to starve
you out for six or seven months."
Barry Rideout, Local 120, also blasted bosses who leave injured
workers without income for months by challenging their compensation claims.
"Its a situation where they try to make it difficult on the worker or try to
force him or her to come back to work earlier than he or she should, which in some cases
results in people re-injuring themselves and making the situation worse."
What happens to injured workers after the incident "is just a
sin," suggested Pat Rafferty, Local 506. Injured workers are treated with
suspicion and made to feel their claims are invalid, he said. State legislatures,
meanwhile, have drastically reduced compensation benefits.
Joe Chavez, Pres.
UE District 10
Joe Chavez, District 10, told the convention how a co-worker falsely
accused of filing a false claim was able to turn the tables by keeping good records.
"The companys the one thats in trouble now," he said.
"Were getting the runaround when it comes to various injuries,
whether it be carpal tunnel or back injuries, which are very easily obtained on the
workplace where I work, turning wrenches, lifting heavy tools," said Al Estrada,
Estrada also reported that his local has been approached by General
Electric to participate in the Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). This scheme, which
involves self-inspection, "would reduce their insurance premiums, so theres
always something in it for them. We havent quite found out whats in it for
us," he said.
Joyce Sumner, Local 332, expressed her disapproval of VPP, which to
her means OSHA avoidance. "If we are to have a safe workplace, we should all be
totally safe," she declared.
Also speaking on the resolution were James Sherman, Local 404, and Ken
Lowther, Local 707.