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63rd National
UE Convention
 

Clean Up Workplace,
Delegates Demand

98convlogo_vsm.gif (2461 bytes)


 

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 Workplace."

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 for accidents.

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. "It’s 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 company’s the one that’s in trouble now," he said.

"We’re 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, Local 1010.

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 there’s always something in it for them. We haven’t quite found out what’s 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.


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