Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.
Elon Musk Hosting SNL: A Very Bad Joke on Working People: "Before we even find out if Elon Musk can do comedy, we know this: Letting him host 'Saturday Night Live' is a joke. Musk has used his social-media megaphone to spread misinformation about COVID, endanger employees’ health and violate their organizing rights. He’s exactly the kind of union-busting CEO who proves why American workers need the PRO Act, a bill sitting in the Senate that will help us reclaim our power."
Nurses Are Striking Across the Country Over Patient Safety: "On May Day outside of St. Vincent Hospital here, there was a sing-along going on. It was the 55th day that the nurses, members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, had been on strike at the hospital, and the sunny weather and blooming flowers meant morale was high."
Sports Unions Come Together to Fight for the PRO Act: "The PRO Act is about as important a piece of labor legislation as we’ve seen in some time. It holds the potential to open the door for workers and organizers to step up and reverse 40 years of losses for organized labor. The law, whose initials stand for Protecting the Right to Organize, aims to do just that: protect workers from being harassed or fired if they try to organize a union or if they try to help their already existing union become more active in their workplace. This is seen as the number one legislative priority for organized labor. Its chances of passing are regarded as slim in the Senate, but that isn’t stopping the union movement from trying to get it passed. Now the PRO Act has very loud and proud support from another group of 'pros,' the major sports unions of the United States. The Major League Baseball Players Association, the NBA Players Association, the NFL Players Association, and the NHL Players Association."
Death on the Job Report: Years of Progress, Long Way to Go: "In the decades since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established, there’s been a lot of progress in cutting worker deaths and injuries on the job. However, there’s still a long way to go. That’s a big conclusion from the data in the AFL-CIO’s 30th annual Death on the Job report, released May 4, a week after OSHA’s 50th anniversary. The Occupational Safety and Health Act, strongly pushed by organized labor, has helped cut deaths on the job from nine per 100,000 workers 30 years ago to 3.5 per 100,000 in 2019. The report with the latest available data shows this. The death rate has stalled at that level ever since the anti-worker anti-safety GOP Trump regime took over in 2017. And the 3.5/100,000 rate still translates into having 275 workers die every day from hazardous working conditions, the report says. Those figures actually understate the case, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the Zoom press conference unveiling the report. 'About 95,000 workers a year die from occupational illnesses,' often contracted long before, she pointed out. And illness and death disproportionately hit workers of color, she added."
COVID-19’s Full Effect on Workers Will Likely Remain Unknown, AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job Report Claims: "The full extent of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the nation’s workforce will likely remain unclear because of the lack of a comprehensive national system to gather such information, according to the AFL-CIO’s annual report on the state of safety and health protections for U.S. workers. The 30th edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect―released May 4―states that 'employer reporting of COVID-19 cases still is mandatory only in a few states with specific standards or orders.' During a May 4 press conference, AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director Rebecca Reindel noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics states on its website that it won’t produce COVID-19 estimates. 'The Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries relies on OSHA recordkeeping requirements, which mandate employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log,' BLS says on its website. 'While the SOII may capture some recordable COVID-19 cases reported by employers, the SOII will not produce estimates specifically covering COVID-19 illnesses.'"
AFL-CIO Demands OSHA Boost After Worker Deaths Report: "The AFL-CIO on Tuesday called on the Biden administration to take action to strengthen federal enforcement of workplace safety standards, on the heels of a report showing more than 5,300 workers died on the job in 2019. The report the labor organization released at a virtual press conference found that workplace deaths rose slightly in 2019, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, though the rate of injuries per 100,000 workers remained steady. The report found the fatality rate for Latino workers hit its highest level since 2008 at 4.2 per 100,000. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's power eroded under the administration of President Donald Trump and she is hopeful President Joe Biden will help lead the agency to take a more forceful stance. 'Obviously, we'd like to rebuild the agency, and the commitment does come from the top,' Shuler said."
Unemployment Benefits Are Not Creating a Worker Shortage: "William Spriggs isn’t buying that. The chief economist at the AFL-CIO labor federation, Spriggs said it is 'self-evident' that millions of people are trying to find work. Just because an employer hasn’t found them yet―at the wages the employer is willing to pay―doesn’t mean the workers aren’t out there. Spriggs said the normal hiring networks that employers rely on were blown up by the pandemic. Some employers who received forgivable government loans were able to keep their workers on the payroll, but many firms simply let them go during lockdown. A year later many of those workers have taken other jobs, moved on or even died."
President Richard Trumka Joined Bloomberg TV to Discuss the PRO Act: "President Richard Trumka joined Bloomberg TV to discuss the PRO Act, worker safety and how President Joe Biden is delivering for working people."
Elon Musk Might Be Hosting SNL, but Tesla Workers Aren’t Laughing: "Saturday Night Live recently announced its upcoming lineup, and I was shocked to see that none other than Elon Musk—the brash CEO of Tesla, my former employer—would be hosting on May 8. There’s a lot to be impressed by when it comes to Tesla’s electric vehicles (EVs) and other cars of the future. But in my mind, there’s nothing funny about how Tesla has treated workers."