Entries Filed in 'Public Safety'
Workers at ALCOM, a trailer manufacturer in Winslow, have been organizing for a union in their workplace. They are seeking representation with the Laborers Union (LiUNA). Since Friday, at least five workers have been fired. Many of their co-workers feel their termination was directly related to their union activity. The Company denies the charges.
“I like the work that I do, and I’m proud to be a good, dedicated worker. I have put nothing but hard work and extra hours in at ALCOM,” said Shawn Nutt of Vassalboro, a worker who was fired from ALCOM on Monday. “It’s clear to me that I was fired because I support the union and want to have a voice on the job. The company is trying to scare us.”
It is illegal under the National Labor Relations Act for an employer to retaliate in any way against a worker for engaging in union activity or concerted action to improve workplace conditions. Workers, unions, and employers can file Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board to spur an investigation into violations of the law.
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Tags: Jobs·Maine's quality of life·unions
Dhaka Savar Building collapse on April 24, 2013 killing over 1,000 garment workers
On 24 April 2013, an eight-story commercial building, Rana Plaza, collapsed in Savar, a sub-district in the Greater Dhaka Area, the capital of Bangladesh. Approximately 2,500 people were injured and more than 2,500 people were rescued from the building alive. The death toll stands at 1,127.It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.
The building contained clothing factories, a bank, apartments, and several other shops. The shops and the bank on the lower floors immediately closed after cracks were discovered in the building. Warnings to avoid using the building after cracks appeared the day before had been ignored. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day and the building collapsed during the morning rush-hour.
In Congress, Senior House Democrats have sent letters to nine separate U.S. retailers calling upon them to join a broadening global coalition supporting a May 12 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, developed by the Worker Rights Consortium and a number of key stakeholders. The accord has won the support of labor rights organizations and unions around the world, and it has gained significant momentum among buyers, with Abercrombie & Fitch, Aldi, Benetton, C&A, Carrefour, El Corte Inglés, Esprit, G-Star, H&M, Helly Hansen, Hess Natur, Inditex, JCB, KIK, LIDL, Loblaws, Mango, Marks & Spencer, Mothercare, N. Brown group, New Look, Next, Primark, PVH, Rewe, Sainsbury’s, Stockmann, Switcher, Tchibo, Tesco, and WE Group having signed on already.
The letters were signed by Leader Nancy Pelosi, Whip Steny Hoyer, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin, Education and Workforce Committee Ranking Member George Miller, Rep. John Lewis, Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, Caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Labor, Education, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro and Rep. Mike Michaud.
“Circumstances are at a tipping point in Bangladesh, much as they were in the wake of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York over a century ago. …We urge you to seize this moment, and to help ensure that workers in Bangladesh do not needlessly lose their lives to produce the clothes we wear,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to the retailers.
Tags: labor issues·World News
Last week on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative (MYTC) played an integral role in launching Success Beyond 18, a national campaign to create a better path for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood. The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a national partner of MYTC since 2003 and leader of Success Beyond 18, joined The Honorable Jack Markell, governor of Delaware and current chair of the National Governors Association, legislators, child welfare experts, and young people in foster care from around the country to kick off the campaign.
Approximately 26,000 individuals get to old, or “age out” of the foster care system each year. In Maine, approximately 150 youth “age out” annually at age 18. After leaving care without a permanent home, many struggle to find housing and jobs, pay for medical care, or finish their education – costly consequences that leave a heavy burden on our communities.
“The goal of our work at the Maine Youth Transition Collaborative is to ensure that no young person leaves foster care without a supportive family and the opportunities they need to help them succeed in work, school, and life,” said Marty Zanghi, director of the MYTC. “We’re excited to be part of this important campaign to help Maine and others make this goal a reality.”
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Tags: Health and Human Services
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. photo by Ramona du Houx
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and about a dozen other Representatives and Senators from both parties met with top White House officials this morning to discuss the issue of sexual assault in the military. The bipartisan group met with Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama, and Tina Tchen, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. President Obama was traveling to Texas and could not attend. Both Jarrett and Tchen are members of the President’s Council on Women and Girls.
“It was a good discussion and it’s clear President Obama is committed to addressing the problem of sexual assault in the military. Sexual assault is criminal behavior that isn’t tolerated in the civilian world and shouldn’t be tolerated in the military—and I think the Administration gets that,” said Pingree.
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“This is an enormous tragedy. There are more than 200 people who lost their home. Their belongings were destroyed—and their security shattered. Their lives are in limbo without the basic things we all take for granted each and every day,” said Senate President Justin Alfond. “If the Governor feels he is unable to take action right now, the legislature will. There is an immediate need to help the people of our state.”
Lewiston lawmakers expressed thanks for swift, decisive action by the Legislature that provides fire victims in their city will desperately needed emergency assistance.
The Legislative Council approved a funding request for $30,000 for housing vouchers to help Lewiston residents who were left homeless by three recent fires, the amount requested by Lewiston officials. Legislative leaders unanimously approved the request during an emergency meeting of the Legislative Council, the governing body of the Legislature made up of the 10 Democratic and Republican leaders. The request was made by Lewiston’s entire legislative delegation.
“The people of Lewiston are grateful for the swift action the Legislature took in the absence of the governor’s using his authority and contingency funds to address the crisis our community is facing,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston. “The Lewiston delegation is grateful to the Legislature for supporting our community when we needed it most.”
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Nearly 9 percent of Maine’s elders live in poverty. According to the Maine State Planning Office Report, energy assistance and home repairs are the two greatest needs for low-income elder homeowners. State Senate Majority Leader Seth Goodall introduced a measure he sponsored to help low-income seniors stay in their homes. He spoke before the Legislature’s Labor, Commerce, Research, and Economic Development (LCRED) committee introducing LD 1354 “An Act to Create the Aging in Place Program.”
“This bill will help seniors continue to live in familiar environments and remain independent. If seniors want to stay in their homes, I want to do everything possible to honor their wishes,” said Sen. Goodall. “This measure enjoys broad bipartisan backing because supporting our seniors is not a partisan issue.”
Sen.r Goodall’s bill provides funding to the Keep Seniors Home program, a program administered by the Maine Community Action Association. If passed, the legislation would provide funding to the Department of Economic and Community Development to distribute to the statewide network providing weatherization and home repair services to low income seniors.
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According to a new AFL-CIO report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, 26 workers were killed in Maine in 2011 with a rate of 4.2 deaths per 100,000 workers, higher than the national rate of 3.5 deaths. Nationally, Maine ranks 30th among states with the lowest worker fatality rates, with 1 being the best and 50 being the worst. It also ranks higher for injuries and illnesses injured at work.
Due to lack of staffing it would take the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 76 years to inspect each workplace in Maine once.
“Too many people are dying on the job right here in Maine and a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that no worker fears for his or her health and wellbeing on the job,” said Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry. “Many workers are still unable to have a voice on the job and to advocate for better working conditions. A good job is not defined only by the absence of physical danger. Working people deserve respect, dignity, good wages, healthcare, and opportunities to grow and to give back to one’s community.”
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A day after a new report from the Pentagon showed a significant increase incases of sexual assault in the military, a House committee has approved a bill written by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree aimed at making it easier for veterans who survive those assaults to get benefits. The bill received broad bipartisan support from the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and will now go to the full House for a vote.
“This is a major step forward in our fight to level the playing field for veterans who were victims of sexual assault and have beenfighting to get the benefits they deserve,” said Pingree.
Pingree said a new Pentagon report, based on an anonymous survey of military personnel, highlights the need for her legislation. The Pentagon reported an increase in the number of sexual assaults in the military last year, from 19,000 to 26,000. But just over 3,000 of those assaults were reported to authorities.
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Lawmakers from Lewiston on Tuesday called on Gov. Paul LePage to use his emergency contingency fund to assist in the Lewiston fire response effort. LePage remarked earlier that he didn’t think there were any funds available to assist over 200 people displaced by the arson attacks.Many have sought shelter in the Lewiston High School Gymnasium.
Maine statute Title V, subsection 1507 allows the Governor of the State of Maine to allocate $350,000 for emergency use.
“We hope the governor will use his authority to release these funds today to help a community in need,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo. “We are urging him to declare this situation an emergency and to access all state and federal funds. The Legislature created the governor’s contingency fund for emergency scenarios just like this.”
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Democratic lawmakers renewed their call for Gov. Paul LePage to release voter-approved bonds.
“It’s past time for the governor to release the bonds,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson. “Stop the rhetoric, quit kidding around and making up these false excuses and let people work.”
The governor’s stubbornness and overreach of power has prevented the investment of $296 million in state and federal dollars into Maine’s economy. Maine voters approved these bipartisan bond packages in 2009, 2010 and 2012 after they passed in the Legislature by two-thirds votes.
The latest report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Maine a grade of C- for its overall infrastructure. The bonds the governor refuses to release include those that would address areas such as bridges, ports and waterways, roads and municipal wastewater, which earned grades of C-, C+, D and D+, respectively.
“Maine is losing out each day that the governor holds these bonds hostage,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe. “Construction season is here. These bonds need to be boosting our economy, getting Mainers to work and putting money in the pockets of our middle class.”
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