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Updated: 2 hours 59 min ago

Stat Facts: District 6 Health Care Activists Mobilize in Canada and Prepare for More Action

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 09:31

The District 6 Health Care Council convened in Ottawa last week for their bi-annual meeting and to rally in the streets in support of improving conditions for the nation’s thousands of health care workers.

Approximately 30 USW health care members met to talk about the importance of bargaining and learn how the union approaches negotiating strategies to win the best possible contracts for its members. With health care workers having no right to strike in Canada, activists must use union organizing and other grassroots efforts to obtain the language and standards they need and deserve in an industry plagued with short staffing and workplace violence.   

“Right now, there’s not enough funding or resources to suffice the growing needs in the long-term care industry,” said District 6 Area Coordinator Richard Leblanc. “And the legislated process to resolve impasse during bargaining is broken, so we need to go back to the good old days of activating our membership.”

One major outcome of the council’s meeting was the creation of a subcommittee, which will focus on those mobilization efforts and begin forming an action plan to tackle the many issues health care workers need addressed, including burnout, standards of care, and the right to refuse unsafe work.

The activists in Ottawa last Thursday also rallied at an intersection near the office of Lisa MacLeod, a politician serving in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, to call for real fixes to these challenges. They handed out leaflets to drivers waiting at red lights as well as directly to MacLeod’s office.

“The private sector is not the answer,” said Audra Nixon, president of the District 6 Health Care Council. “Good public policy is, and that’s why we need to make our voices heard.”

For more photos from the event, click here.

Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives Urging Passage of H.R. 5: The Equality Act

Fri, 05/17/2019 - 12:53

Click here to download this letter as a PDF.

Dear Representative:

Today, the House of Representatives is expected to consider the Equality Act, H.R 5. This critical legislation would combat the ongoing discrimination faced on a daily basis by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) Americans. Over 70 countries have adopted anti-discrimination protections – like the Equality Act – and we urge Congress to do the same.

In many states across the county, workers are fired from their jobs or people are evicted from their homes, simply based on their sexual orientation or identity, without any recourse. In fact, more than half of all U.S. states lack protections against LGBTQ discrimination. Only 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. H.R. 5 would provide the much-needed protection for the LGBTQ community throughout the country.

The Equality Act would strengthen civil rights protections in the following ways:

  • Modify existing civil rights laws - including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Jury Selection and Services Act, and several laws regarding employment with the federal government - to extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans in access to employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations.
  • It would make it explicit that federal discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on gender stereotypes, pregnancy, gender identity and characteristics.
  • It would expand existing civil rights protections from discrimination in public places to include entertainment venues, places that sell goods and services, and transportation services.

More than 70 percent of Americans support passing the kinds of protections found in the Equality Act. This is a bipartisan idea with broad support and the time has come to make it law. I strongly urge you to pass H.R. 5 the Equality Act.


Leo W. Gerard
International President

Atomic Workers Raise Concerns to Energy Department Officials

Thu, 05/16/2019 - 12:14

Members of the USW’s Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) met with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials at the group’s semi-annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 17-19, 2019. Council members discussed their sites’ working conditions and offered suggestions for improvement.

Anne White, assistant secretary of the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, and Doug Matheney, special advisor to the DOE Secretary in the Office of Fossil Energy, met with the council on March 18 for two hours.

Pictured: USW Atomic Energy Workers Council members convened in Washington, D.C. for their March 17-19, 2019 meeting. Photo by Bill Collins, LU 12-369.


Bill Collins, vice president at large/business agent for Local 12-369 at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state, told DOE officials how the contractor for the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) project is accelerating tear-down work, which has led to numerous technical mistakes and the hiring of many under-qualified personnel.

The PFP nuclear chemical operators had 20-30 years of experience handling plutonium and plutonium-contaminated systems. Yet, management moved them out and replaced them with Decontamination and Decommission (D&D) workers who had never worked with fissile material or plutonium-contaminated processes and equipment.

“When you review the safety metrics, you can see how conditions started to diminish up to the final, large-scale contamination incidents and the eventual shutdown of the D&D project in December 2017 when 42 workers were contaminated,” Collins said.

Demolition of the remaining lower-risk portions of the PFP main processing facility and vault restarted the week of April 8, 2019, and are expected to continue through June 2019. demolition of the remaining lower-risk portions of the PFP main processing facility and vault — is expected to continue through June.

Idaho National Laboratory

At Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the DOE is considering a re-bid of the Fluor Idaho, LLC clean-up contract in 2021, even though the clean-up work is slated for completion in 2025.

Local 12-652 at INL urged DOE officials not to re-bid the cleanup agreement because of the complications that occur during any contract transition. Local union officials also emphasized that the cleanup successes at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory were possible because the DOE kept in place the main contractor for the remaining few years of the projects.

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Local 12-9477 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., raised concerns about workers’ ability to breathe clean air in the underground transuranic waste disposal site. A new ventilation system is in its earliest stages of installation, but the local said that ventilation problems could be mitigated if DOE had more fans operating.

The atomic locals also called attention to labor-management concerns at their sites, including DOE’s delay in issuing bargaining parameters to contractors at several of the clean-up projects.

“This makes it difficult for the contractors and unions to negotiate timely agreements,” said Jim Key, AEWC president.

The council suggested that DOE make its bargaining parameters available to the union at the same time they are issued to the contractor.

The council also recommended that quarterly meetings be re-started among the USW, the DOE and major site contractors so potential disputes could be resolved.  In addition, the council asked the officials to approach the contractors about allowing USW safety trainers, who operate under DOE-issued grants, to teach their work forces.

White said she would look into releasing the bargaining parameters to the union at the same time as the contractors receive them.

Matheney said he was willing to visit the DOE sites, meet with the locals and their members, and convey their concerns to senior contractor personnel.

Unity in Copper: Copper Price Bonus Update; ASARCO Files Petition for Supreme Court Review

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 13:07

Click here to download this update as a PDF.

ASARCO filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, May 10, 2019, asking the Court to review the Copper Price Bonus case.

ASARCO’s long, spiteful and misguided fight to avoid paying the Copper Price Bonus to employees hired after June 30, 2011, as ordered by the arbitrator, confirmed in federal court and twice affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is now nearing its end.

Called a “petition for writ of certiorari,” the Supreme Court is not bound to any strict timeline for a decision about whether to hear the case. Indeed, the Supreme Court typically grants only 2 or 3% out of the thousands of “cert petitions” filed each year.

Our unions remain committed to holding management accountable and making sure the company pays those who have been unjustly denied millions of dollars in bonuses and post-judgement interest – as awarded by the arbitrator and ordered by the courts.

We will continue to monitor the situation and share information as it becomes available.

Justice for all!

Stand together! Fight together! Win Together!

Stat Facts: First Contract at Teal Lake Offers Bright Beginnings; Thank You for an Amazing Nurses Week!

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 09:37
First Contract at Teal Lake Offers Bright Beginnings

Direct Care aides, housekeepers and dietary staff members at the Teal Lake Senior Living Community in Negaunee, Mich., ratified a first contract on April 27 after successfully voting to join the USW last year.

“The campaign was a long and stressful process because we had so many hills to climb,” said Peggy Kangas, the local’s unit chairperson. “During bargaining there was fear of the unknown, but it went smoothly with mutual respect all around.”

The 29 new members joined amalgamated Local 4950, which also represents USW members at the Empire Mine, Eastwood Nursing Center, Bell Medical Center, Ishpeming Medical Center, Negaunee Public Schools and Malton Electric.

The Teal Lake employees approached Local 4950 for assistance in organizing. The National Labor Relations Board ordered a rerun of a failed first election that was tainted by management unfair labor practices. A second election held last May secured a union victory.

The contract is one that Kangas is proud of and knows what a difference it will make for the lives of her co-workers, as well as herself.

“This contract is going to give all employees a voice,” she said. “It also gives us a sense of security knowing that the union is now there to help us get the fair treatment we’ve wanted for so long. It’s like having a fresh start with the sun shining down on us!” 

Staff representative Chris Haddock assisted in the organizing drive and the bargaining for a first contract. The two-year agreement includes pay raises totaling $1.35 an hour over two years, time and a half, holiday pay, and a personal time off program, he said.

Thank You for an Amazing Nurses Week!

As National Nurses Week comes to an end (just in time for Florence Nightingale’s birthday), we’d like to thank everyone for participating! We loved having the opportunity to celebrate the thousands of nursing professionals we represent across the United States and Canada and uplift their voices. Sharing all of your photos and your stories was an honor.

The union also used this celebratory week to launch our nationwide push for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. Please speak with your local officers or Rapid Response coordinator about signing postcards that will be sent to your Congressional representatives urging them to sign onto this vital bill.

We salute you for all of your hard work. We vow to continue fighting for you to have a voice in the workplace.

To view all of the photos you’ve sent us this week, click here!

Bargaining update: Arconic targets security of members’ jobs, earnings, more

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 08:04

Click here to download a printable version of this update. 

As negotiations with Arconic continued this week, our committee has recognized a theme reflected in the company’s contract demands—radical and unnecessary changes to our agreement that would amount to major economic and non-economic concessions for our members.

Management wants to expand its use of temporary workers while limiting our ability to challenge decisions that directly threaten the security of our jobs.

The company has proposed to eliminate performance pay without providing an alternative plan for individual workers to share in the company’s success, undermining the security of our earnings. As for wages, Arconic says it will not discuss wage increases until our committee accepts the concessions already on the table.

Similarly, before they will address premium pricing for our health insurance, management wants us to agree to allow them to offer an optional low-cost, obviously inferior health care plan to current employees while the company also seeks to end contributions to the fund that pays a portion of retiree healthcare premiums.

Arconic has also proposed to replace our current pensions and instead force individuals into a 401(k) plan that will not include contributions for lost time due to layoff or injuries, whether personal or work related.

We must be prepared to stand together and deliver the strong message to Arconic management at all locations that we have earned and deserve a fair contract that makes our jobs, wages and benefits more secure instead of less.

As negotiations proceed, we will provide information about our progress. We urge everyone to keep focused on working safely and staying united.

In solidarity,

Your USW/Arconic Negotiating Committee

Time to Celebrate National Nurses Week

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 09:26

Today marks the first day of the annual National Nurses Week, a time for everyone – individuals, employers, other health care professionals, and community leaders – to recognize the vast contributions and positive impact of America’s millions of nursing professionals. Each year, the celebration ends on May 12, Florence Nightingale's birthday.

“Our members in the nursing field make a difference every day,” said USW International President Leo Gerard. “They deserve to be recognized for their often-overlooked hard work in caring for our loved ones in their times of need.”

The USW is also using this week to raise awareness about the issues affecting the industry, especially safety. In the health care and social assistance sectors, 13 percent of days away from work were the result of violence in 2013, and this rate has increased in recent years.

Safe Jobs Now

This is why the union is launching a nationwide action to push for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to update current legislation to ensure workplaces develop and implement violence prevention plans, which will significant impact health care workers, who experience violence on the job at rates 12 times higher than the overall work force.

“This legislation would do what health care workers have long needed, and that is for their employers to be held accountable,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond. “An enforceable OSHA standard is the only way to guarantee that, and we look forward to pushing this bill through with the help of our dedicated union activists.”

Be on the lookout for postcards that were mailed to 1,800 local unions across all industries, along with instructions on how to sign and deliver them to U.S. Senators and the Secretary of Labor. This is a solvable problem, but it will take actions like this to get it done.

For more information about the groundbreaking campaign and how you can get involved, click here.

Who are USW Nurses?

The USW represents thousands of nurses across the United States and Canada, and they’re employed by hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, community care centers and other medical facilities. Some are public employees, others are private sector, but they all work with a common purpose – the welfare of their patients and the public. We want to take this time to celebrate their work and elevate their voices!

If your local is hosting an event or action in honor of National Nurses Week, please e-mail Tamara Lefcowitz at with any photos and information.

Jawan Smith - USW District 7 PAC Contributor

Wed, 05/01/2019 - 10:00

Jawan Smith
District 7
Local Union 6787
Arcelor Mittal
Crown Point, Indiana

“I give to USW PAC to protect my way of life and to ensure the rights of workers for generations to come.”


Click HERE to share your story about why USW PAC matters to you.

Note:  Federal law prohibits USW PAC from soliciting contributions from individuals who are not United Steelworkers Union members, executive and administrative staff or their families.  Any contribution received from such an individual will be refunded immediately.

Safe Jobs Now: A national postcard action to address workplace violence in health care and social services is underway

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 13:13

“There is an incident nearly every week at my hospital that ranges from slapping to punching to broken bones. I am a big guy, but one time I was trying to change the wet bed of a male patient when he became agitated and broke my arm. I was out of work for weeks.”

“My daughter was hurt by a patient. She was hit and punched while trying to keep him from hurting other patients. She had to have a disc in her neck replaced because of it.”

“I was stabbed at work by a patient.”

These stories happen too often for the tens of thousands of nurses, support staff, home care workers, behavioral health staff, emergency medical technicians, and others in our union who work in health care and social services. While workplace violence is a serious and growing problem for all workers, incidents in these industries have far outpaced any other. A lack of preventative measures combined with the increasingly profit-driven nature of health care is resulting in problems like unsafe staffing levels that contribute to the trend.

This foreseeable and preventable problem impacts anyone who works directly in health care or social services, anyone who is a patient, and anyone who visits or accompanies a patient. Given that workplace violence compromises quality of care, everyone is ultimately impacted.

This is why we are launching a nationwide action to push for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309/S. 851). This bill would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure these workplaces develop and implement violence prevention plans.

Resources for the Postcard Action

Packages of postcards directed to U.S. Senators and the Secretary of Labor were mailed to all Local Union Presidents along with instructions.* Please circulate the postcards in your workplace, then return them to Rapid Response (instructions in the link below). This is a solvable problem, but it will take action like this to get it done.

Click here for printable versions to share in your workplace in English | Spanish

USW on The Leslie Marshall Show: Safety is Every Worker’s Right

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 12:36

Ashlee Fitch from the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment department joined The Leslie Marshall Show to talk about Workers’ Memorial Day, as well as the rolling back of many critical Obama-era worker protections and the risk that places on America's work force.

“A lot of workers’ rights have been coming under the microscope and coming under attack, and health and safety is no different,” Fitch said regarding the Trump administration’s slashing of OSHA staff and regulations.

“We fought for almost 40 years to even get a beryllium standard pushed through,” she said, “and once we did, the [Trump] administration quickly rolled back those protections for workers who are in the construction industry and in the maritime industry.”

Each year, 11,500 shipyard and construction workers, including Steelworkers at Newport News, Va., are exposed to beryllium, a toxic element laced through the coal waste often used in abrasive blasting grits. Beryllium inhalation has long been known to cause lung cancer and berylliosis, a debilitating and often fatal respiratory illness.

Workplace violence is also a major health and safety issue for all working people, but particularly health care workers, and the union is currently working in Washington to urge Congress to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The vital bill would issue an occupational safety and health standard that requires covered employers within the health care and social service industries to develop and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

“When you look at the rates of violence against health care workers, the rates are 12 times higher than the overall work force,” Fitch said. “We saw this and recognized that we have a lot of things going on in our workplaces that don’t align with the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

One of the hopes for the bill is that it will strengthen workers’ ability to report acts of violence they experience on the job, especially immigrant workers, who often fear punishment via harassment and even deportation.

For the full Leslie Marshall interview, listen below.

You can also read USW International President Leo W. Gerard’s recent blog on Workers’ Memorial Day here.

The Oilworker: May 2019

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 09:14
FROM THE UNION May Update from the NOBP Chair

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with heavy heart that I inform you of the death of our brother, Dave Fernan, who worked at an oil terminal in the Los Angeles basin. Dave was a member of Local Union 12-675. He fell into the water during a ship mooring operation and was retrieved by coworkers and the ship’s crew. He later passed away at the hospital.

There are few details at this time, but the incident is under investigation by OSHA along with the company and union representatives.

Please keep Dave’s wife and daughters as well as the rest of his family, friends and co-workers in your thoughts and prayers.

Kim Nibarger
NOBP Chair
(Office) 412-562-2403


Click to read more from The Houston Business Journal.
Occidental challenges Chevron’s Anadarko acquisition with $57B offer

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has two competing suitors who are interested in the company’s shale oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) operations. Chevron Corp. gave a $33 billion bid in early April that Anadarko accepted. A little over a week later, Occidental Petroleum Corp. counteroffered with $57 billion, which represented a premium of about 20 percent to the Chevron deal. Plus, Occidental’s proposal would not come with the $1 billion breakup fee required in the Chevron offer. Either company’s purchase would likely close in the second half of 2019, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and other usual closing conditions.

Click here to read more from Energy Times.
Anadarko to pursue deal talks with Occidental Petroleum-sources

After seeing Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s $38 billion cash-and-stock bid, Anadarko’s board of directors decided on Sunday, April 28 to negotiate a sale of the company to Occidental. Sources said it is not certain that Occidental will be able to secure its own deal, but if it does, Chevron’s contract with Anadarko allows for it to match Occidental’s offer.  

Click here to listen to the podcast.
Speak Up, Speak Out Podcast Interviews Labor and Environmental Activists Regarding Washington State’s Revamping of Its Process Safety Management Standard

The podcast features interviews with Dr. Michael Wilson, the BlueGreen Alliance’s national director for occupational and environmental health; Steve Garey, retired refinery worker, former president of USW Local 12-591 and member of the BlueGreen Alliance, and Mary Ruth Holder, a retired lawyer with experience in environmental law in Texas and a community member representing Evergreen Islands.

The program discusses refinery incidents that led to the revamping of Washington state’s Process Safety Management (PSM) standard. Listeners are invited to attend a May 2 public hearing in Burlington, Wash., explaining the PSM regulatory improvements and how public comments can be made to support refinery safety.


Has your local organized a group of workers, won an award, participated in a community event, won an arbitration, helped achieve a legislative victory, settled a safety issue, etc.?

Please contact Lynne Hancock at, (Office) 412-562-2442 or (cell) 615-828-6169.

Get bargaining updates via text! Text OIL to the phone number 47486.  

By opting-in, you agree to receive recurring messages from the USW; message and data rates may apply. To opt out, text STOP. For help, text HELP. Full terms and conditions at No purchase necessary.

USW Members tell their Representatives: No Vote on NAFTA Until NAFTA is Fixed!

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 09:11

Workers from unions and allied organizations reached out to their U.S. Representatives during a two-week span in April. The message was simple: Congress should not hold a vote on the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) until core problems are addressed. USW members were a key part of the effort.

For a quarter century, NAFTA has failed workers. CEOs continue to shutter factories in the U.S. while pursuing low wages and lax environmental standards as they set up shop in Mexico. For those U.S. workers who hang on to their jobs, there is still downward pressure on wages and benefits from this lopsided playing field. In Mexico, workers struggle to make gains.

We have an opportunity to get it right as NAFTA is renegotiated. There’s been progress, but not enough. We need swift and certain enforcement of labor provisions. Mexican workers must be able to freely bargain for a better future, and not be subjected to threats and violence when attempting to form an independent union. We also need to fix problems in the proposed deal, like the monopoly rights for pharmaceutical corporations that will keep drug prices sky high (more info at

Thank you to all USW members who made a call. Your efforts are making a difference.

Photo caption: USW Local 6103 members in Indiana, with an assist from President Tom Potter, are making their calls.

Unity in Copper: Labor Leaders call on Grupo Mexico to Respect Workers and Communities

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 07:51

Representatives from the USW joined with leaders from Los Mineros in Mexico City last week to call on the Mexican government to respect workers’ rights, demand Grupo Mexico end the ongoing strikes in Sombrerete, Zacatecas; Taxco, Guerrero; and Cananea, Sonora, Mexico and cause its subsidiary, ASARCO, to bargain in good faith with the USW in ongoing negotiations involving workers in AZ and TX.

The meeting coincided with the Southern Copper annual shareholder meeting in Mexico.

At a well-attended press event, leaders from both unions pledged their solidarity and support in the ongoing fight for labor reforms in Mexico that would allow workers to choose their union representatives. Leaders then called on the Mexican government to hold Grupo Mexico and CEO Germán Larrea accountable for their many abuses, including the Pasta de Conchos disaster, the Sonora River spill, abuses to Los Mineros, and ongoing contract negotiations with subsidiary ASARCO.

"[Grupo Mexico] does not respect the human rights of the miners, nor those of a labor and ecological nature," said Los Mineros leader José Ángel Hernández Puente.

In his opinion, previous governments protected Grupo Mexico from the consequences of its conduct, but now "we hope that the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador will put an end to these abuses."

Click here to download this as a PDF.

AFL-CIO Releases Yearly Worker Safety Report

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 07:27

In recognition of Workers Memorial Day, the AFL-CIO has released its 2019 edition of “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” a national and state-by-state profile of worker safety and health in the United States.

In 2017, 5,147 workers lost their lives on the job as a result of traumatic injuries, according to fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Each day in this country, an average of 14 workers die because of job injuries—women and men who go to work, never to return home to their families and loved ones. This does not include those workers who die from occupational diseases, estimated to be 95,000 each year.

Violence is also a growing threat to workers’ safety, especially in the health care industry. Rates of violence against health care workers are reported to be up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce.

The cost of these injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion a year, according to the AFL-CIO report.

To access the entire report, click here.

Stat Facts: USW Health Care Member Spotlight: Kathy Whitaker, District 8

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 14:39

USW Health Care Workers Council Coordinator Kathy Whitaker always knew she enjoyed helping others and wanted to pursue a career that allowed her to give back. Health care turned out to be just the ticket, and for the past 27 years, she has been working in a fast-growing industry that, thanks to the union, has afforded her a good, family-supportive job.

“In 1991, I was working as a hotel clerk, and I was making very little money with no benefits,” said Whitaker, now a nursing service clerk at Hazard Appalachian Regional Health Care. “Ever since I was hired [at Hazard] in 1992, I’ve been in the union. I would not have it any other way.”

To Whitaker, vice president of Local 14637, being a union member means having a stronger voice and better working conditions. It also means having the opportunity to forge relationships built on respect and solidarity with her fellow Steelworkers.

“I love all of my coworkers,” she said. “I have learned so much from them.”

These bonds proved vital when, in 2007, Whitaker and her coworkers went on strike.

“We stood together on that line for three weeks,” she said. “I was really proud that we stood strong.”

When Whitaker isn’t standing union strong, she loves spending time with her family, camping, lounging in her pontoon on the lake, and flipping houses.

Stat Facts: Health Care Members Lobby for Workplace Violence Legislation

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 11:04

USW Health Care Council members walked the halls of Congress earlier this month to gain support from representatives and senators for workplace violence protection legislation.

The bills, H.R. 7141 and S 851, direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue a standard requiring health care and social service employers to write and implement a workplace violence prevention plan. 

Valencia Davis, a nurse assistant at the Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center in Calif., participated in the lobby day because the issue is one that, unfortunately, dominates her work.

“When we’re on the floor, it’s dangerous, especially if you’re the only one on the unit,” Davis, of Local 7600, said. “The violence is both physical and mental, and we get it both from patients and family members.”

Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), the representative who introduced the bill originally in November 2018, believes health care workers like Davis and her fellow union members are long overdue for workplace protections.

“This legislation compels OSHA to do what employees, safety experts, and Members of Congress have been calling for years – create an enforceable standard to ensure that employers are taking these risks seriously, and creating safe workplaces that their employees deserve,” Courtney said last fall.

James Schavers, of Local 183 in Apple Valley, Calif., also joined the union delegation to D.C. A nursing assistant at St. Mary Medical Center for seven years, Schavers became involved with his local union in order to use his voice to create change.

“When I realized we could actually get involved, I went from wanting knowledge to wanting to actually help people,” he said. “One way to do that was telling members of Congress about my and my coworkers’ experiences.”

Schavers has been the victim of violence from patients several times, though it’s his coworkers he worries about most. Training, accountability, and reporting from the hospital are his priorities for his local’s next negotiations, scheduled for summer 2020.

“The hospital expects you to stop patients if they lash out and strike you or rip out their IV’s,” Schavers said, “but they don’t provide proper training or resources. Then if you do experience violence, they expect you to come back to work the next day even if you’re in pain.”

The introduction of the bill and the calls for its support are a part of the larger movement within the health care industry from workers like Schavers who are demanding dignity and protection on the job. Workplace violence, an epidemic often experienced in silence by victims, is finally being taken seriously by those who can help make a difference, including political leaders.

A 2016 GAO study reported that rates of violence against health care workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70 percent of nonfatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the health care and social assistance sectors. The bill, introduced with the support of 27 members of Congress, aims to reduce these rates.

Davis, who has been a nursing assistant since 1984, is hopeful about the legislation’s prospects for passage after her long day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.

“Everyone we talked to seemed to agree with us,” she said. “I definitely enjoyed the experience, too, and would love to do it again.”

Members Jackie Acklam from District 2 and Tuan Vu from District 11 also participated in the lobby day in Washington, D.C.

Join the Conversation!

 To join the online conversation on workplace violence, use and explore the social media hashtag #SafeJobsNow.

Corporate Greed at its Worst

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:13

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) fought tooth and nail with General Motors president Mary Barra over the closing of the Lordstown, Ohio auto plant that ceased production on March 6. He knew that 1,400 permanent well-paying manufacturing jobs would be lost and would have devastating effects on the city that has been building cars for General Motors since 1966.

But Senator Brown was also aware of the ripple effect that would be caused by the loss of these jobs in the Youngstown area.

The Lordstown plant is just the first of five North American plants GM has scheduled for closing in the coming months. More jobs will be lost and thousands of jobs in the supply chain will also disappear.

The steel industry could be hit hard with United Steelworker slowdowns in the Mahoning Valley. It brings back memories of “Black Monday” when 41 years ago Youngstown Sheet and Tube closed its Campbell Works Mill laying off 5,000 steelworkers. During the next five years, almost 50,000 people would lose jobs in steel and related industries in the Youngstown area.

The main issue here is automobiles but Senator Brown, a champion of the steel industry, knows how hard the Lordstown plant closing will be on Ohio steelworkers.

Senator Brown described the closing as “shameful.” GM reaped a massive tax break from last year’s GOP tax bill but did not invest that money in American jobs and moved production to Mexico. Brown called the decision “corporate greed at its worst.”

New NAFTA Language Cannot be Approved in its Current Form

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 13:05

Soon Congress will consider a revised NAFTA trade deal, also known as the USMCA. The administration and the governments of Canada and Mexico have negotiated the wording as it currently stands.

The revised deal would lock in high U.S. drug prices. It extends pharmaceutical corporations’ monopoly rights, allowing them to block generic competition. Delaying the introduction of generic medicine means high prices for biologics, medicines that fight cancer and other critical diseases for even longer.

The agreement also ties the hands of future Congresses. It prevents any future changes that would lower drug prices for the drugs affected by this agreement.

Mexico’s Undersecretary for North America recently admitted this danger that the USMCA would make it "more difficult to get generic” medicines.

Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. One in five people say that they can't afford the cost of their prescribed medication. Many seniors have to choose between taking those medications and putting food on the table.

The last thing we need now is a trade deal that makes this problem worse. White House officials have not yet submitted the text for the bill, and Congress can make changes, or vote the agreement down.

We call on Congress to block these giveaways to Pharma and stand up for retirees and all consumers.

Robert Roach, Jr. is president of the Alliance for Retired Americans. He was previously General Secretary-Treasurer of the IAMAW. For more information, visit


April Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:57
Take Action to Protect Our Pensions

Because of a perfect storm of the Great Recession, changing industries, failed trade policies that have caused significant manufacturing job loss, and other factors outside of our control, the security of some multiemployer pension plans are at risk of going insolvent unless Congress takes action.

We know that a pension provides security to retirees after decades of hard work. A pension oftentimes makes it possible for us to care for an ill or aging spouse, or a disabled child or grandchild.

Congress has an opportunity to  take swift action to protect more than one million Americans who are at risk of losing their pensions. Our union supports H.R. 397, the Rehabilitation for Multiemployer Pensions Act. This legislation would extend long- term loans to financially troubled pension plans, granting security to pensioners.

We need to push our lawmakers to take action. Please write your Representative, and urge them to support H.R. 397. You can submit your letter using a tool we have made available on our union’s Rapid Response website, which can be found at or go to

Julie Stein
SOAR Director

April Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Tue, 04/09/2019 - 14:51
SOAR ARA Affiliation

Our SOAR members, in New York State, have become the latest group to affiliate with the Alliance for Retired Americans. With District 4 SOAR members affiliating with the NY State Alliance, it brings the number of states we have now affiliated with to 22. This affiliation will allow us to gather and share information, as well as giving access to more people who share our issues and are willing to get involved in New York State. I want to thank District 4 Director John Shinn for his vision and willingness to help SOAR and also the other US District Directors who have paid the dues for SOAR Chapters in other Districts  to allow SOAR to become more relevant in their States.

With the recent release of the proposed budget and the attack on seniors through Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid changes, it cannot be more clear that SOAR must do all it can to educate our members and the general public about the threat to ourselves and future retirees. Today, 61 million Americans receive Social Security benefits. Over 40 million retirees rely on these modest benefits for over half of their retirement income. Also, millions of seniors, who are in nursing homes, rely on Medicaid to pay for their care. We cannot allow our story to be told to only our members. We need to join groups like the ARA so that we can expand our numbers and grow our voice on these issues.

See your District Executive Board member for more information relating to a new or existing State affiliation with the ARA.

Bill Pienta
SOAR President

En español:

Afiliación SOAR ARA

Nuestros miembros de SOAR en el estado de Nueva York se han convertido en el último grupo en Afiliarse a Alliance de Retired Americans o Alianza para los americanos jubilados. Con los miembros de SOAR del Distrito 4 afiliados a la Alianza del estado de Nueva York, la cantidad de Estados con los que ahora estamos afiliados asciende a 22. Esta afiliación nos permitirá recopilar y compartir información, así como dar acceso a más personas que comparten los temas en los que la tierra está dispuesta a participar en el estado de Nueva York. Quiero agradecer al Director del Distrito 4, John Shinn por su visión y disposición de ayudar a SOAR y también a los otros Directores de los EE. UU. Que también pagaron las cuotas de los Capítulos de SOAR en otros Distritos para permitir que SOAR sea más relevante en sus estados.

Con los lanzamientos recientes del presupuesto propuesto y el ataque a los adultos mayores a través de los cambios del Seguro Social y Medicare / Medicaid, no puede ser más claro que SOAR debe hacer todo lo posible para educar a nuestros miembros y al público en general sobre la amenaza para nuestros y futuros jubilados. Hoy en día, 61 millones de estadounidenses o americanos reciben beneficios de la Seguridad Social. Más de 40 millones de jubilados dependen de estos beneficios modestos para más de la mitad de sus ingresos de jubilación. Además, millones de personas mayores que están en hogares de ancianos confían en Medicaid para pagar por su atención. No podemos permitir que nuestra historia sea contada solo a nuestros miembros. Necesitamos unirnos a grupos como ARA para poder expandir nuestros números y hacer crecer nuestra voz en estos temas. Consulte al miembro de la Junta Ejecutiva de su Distrito para obtener más información sobre una afiliación estatal nueva o existente con el ARA.

Bill Pienta
presidente de SOAR


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