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6/20/2005

Unions make workplaces healthier says CWA

Source: CWA

Unions can have a dramatic impact on every aspect of workplace health and safety, a top US union has said. The message accompanied by grassroots case histories came at this month’s occupational health and safety conference of the CWA, the US communications union.

More than 200 safety and health activists shared success stories and planned strategies for the improvement of safety and health in their workplaces.

CWA executive vice president Larry Cohen commented: 'Our health and safety work clearly distinguishes what it means to work union, whether pushing for safety and health improvements in a lead acid battery plant, a hospital, on the police force, or as an outside technician or service rep.'

Delegates heard a series of success stories from union reps. Local 9111 of the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs lobbied successfully to get cancer, blood-borne diseases and heart disease presumed job-related and covered by workers' compensation for police officers in California.

Flight attendants were instrumental in negotiating the elimination of smoking on flights and means to ensure 'increased survivability' in airplane accidents. Local 7800 described its annual 'safety rodeo' where all installer trucks and buckets are inspected.

Unsafe trucks are 'red tagged' for dangerous equipment such as failing brakes, bald tyres, and cracks in lifting devices. In the 1970s, print union Amicus-GPM pioneered red tagging of dangerous machinery in the UK, preventing its use until safety problems were remedied.

Evidence worldwide has proven the 'union safety effect'.

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