Jan 152015
 

In 1894, American workers staged our first labor strike in Pullman, Illinois. Before it was over, more than 150,000 people were involved and federal troops would kill several protesters by indiscriminately shooting into crowds. Labor organizers say that throughout their history companies have used force or replacement workers to punish strikers and end strikes. They claim company managers sometimes harass, intimidate and fire workers who attempt to organize co-workers or encourage strikes. In an attempt to settle labor disputes as amiably as possible, most collective bargaining agreements now contain a mediation and/or arbitration clause. These “alternative dispute resolution” processes bypass the legal system. The mediation process typically involves a third-party moderator who helps parties negotiate a settlement amongst themselves. Binding arbitration uses a third-party referee, agreed upon by both employer and employees, to decide the final resolution of a dispute. Arbitration avoids worker strikes and allows neutral third-parties to decide a dispute without litigation. However, arbitration is not used to resolve disputes when a new union is being certified –a procedure that is often lengthy and contentious. Unions have proposed using arbitration to help allay this difficult process. Employers disagree saying, unions will not have any incentive to make reasonable contract demands since the further apart they are from employers, the more likely an arbitrator will be called in to settle the dispute. Employers are concerned that once an arbitrator is brought in to settle an impasse regarding an initial labor contract, companies will no longer be able to negotiate or implement their own terms.

Pending Legislation:

H.R.169 – Labor Relations First Contract Negotiations Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current labor dispute policy and wish to defeat H.R.169

I support amending the National Labor Relations Act to require mediation and, if necessary, binding arbitration of initial contract negotiation disputes, and wish to pass H.R.169

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

There are about 155 million Americans workers -when we are all working. During the Great Recession, about 8.5 million Americans, or 6% of all workers, lost their jobs during 2008 and 2009 alone. The official unemployment rate in 2009 was 10.2%. It is now about 5.8%, the lowest it has been since before the 2008 financial crisis. However, these figures do not count the number of unemployed people who have stopped looking for work or those who are underemployed. If these people were included, our actual unemployment rate would be nearly double what it is reported to be. A year after the start of the Great Recession, we passed a $787 billion stimulus package which most economists agree helped stop our economic slide and began a gradual retreat from the brink of collapse. Since then, polls have overwhelmingly reported that most Americans believe job creation should be our most important goal -but Congress has yet to pass any bills which validate this belief. Unemployment benefits are usually paid for 26 weeks, not counting extensions. However, our 2013 sequester cuts reduced the amount of these benefits by about 15% -or about $62 per week for those receiving maximum benefits. The average unemployment benefit is about $289 per week.

Pending Legislation:

S.1170 & H.R.2381 – Youth Jobs Act

H.R.2177 – Unemployment Restoration Act

H.R.1436 – Job Opportunities Between our Shores Act

H.R.3016 – Jobs for Urban Sustainability and Training in America Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current unemployment policy and wish to defeat S.1170 & H.R.2381, H.R.2177, H.R.1436 and H.R.3016

I support funding employment opportunities and training for low-income youth by establishing the Treasury the Youth Jobs Fund, with an initial appropriation of $3 billion for 2014; making Fund allocations to each state to provide summer and year-round employment opportunities to low-income youth; awarding allocations and competitive grants to local entities for work-based training and other work-related and educational strategies and activities of demonstrated effectiveness to provide unemployed, low-income young adults and low-income youths with skills that will lead to employment, and wish to pass S.1170 & H.R.2381

I support restoring the sequester cuts to unemployment insurance by making available for obligation, in the same amount and manner as if such order had not been issued, any budgetary resources sequestered under the presidential sequestration order for federal payments to a state; applying the same requirements for 2014-2021 with respect to any presidential sequestration order that might be issued and wish to pass H.R.2177

I support grants to carry out demonstration and pilot projects that provide education and training programs for jobs in advanced manufacturing, and wish to pass H.R.1436

I support providing $5 billion grants to large cities with high unemployment rates to provide job training, public works projects and economic development programs, and wish to pass H.R.3016

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Since 1971, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) has been responsible for developing and enforcing workplace safety and health regulations. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” Since OSHA’s inception, workplace fatalities have decreased 65%, from 38 deaths a day to 13, while injury and illness rates have dropped 67%. During this time American employment has nearly doubled. Most of the debate about OSHA centers on the cost of its regulations versus the actual benefit in reduced worker injury, illness and death. However, studies have found the costs of compliance with OSHA rules are often overestimated by both OSHA and the industries it regulates. Some question OSHA’s effectiveness because the maximum penalty it can levy against safety violators is 6 months in jail. During more than 30 years of OSHA’s existence, it has only secured a total of 12 criminal convictions. Advocates claim we need to revise OSHA’s laws to make it a felony to willfully commit a safety violation that results in the death of a worker. In 2011, more than 4,600 American workers were killed on the job. Construction workers led our nation in workplace fatalities with 738 deaths, or nearly 18% of all workplace fatalities.

Pending Legislation:

S.665 & H.R.1648 – Protecting America’s Workers Act

I oppose reforming current worker safety policy and wish to defeat S.665 & H.R.1648

I support amending the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to expand its coverage to federal, state, and local government employees; prescribing requirements relating to: a employer’s duty to furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to any individual performing work there; the posting of employee rights; employer reporting of employee work-related deaths or hospitalizations; a prohibition against employers adopting or implementing policies or practices that discourage or discriminate against employee reporting of work-related injuries or illnesses; a prohibition against the loss of wages or employee benefits due to an employee participating in a workplace inspection; investigations of incidents resulting in death or the hospitalization of two or more employees which occur in a place of employment, and wish to pass S.665 & H.R.1648

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill making it a felony to willfully violate occupational safety standards which result in the death of a worker

 Posted by at 12:00 am