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Tony Mazzocchi Talks About Chemicals and the Workers: 1978 National Film Board of Canada

By Tony Mazzochi - National Film Board of Canada, July 4, 2021

In this 1978 film, Tony Mazzocchi, then vice-president of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers' Union in the United States, discusses the political and social reasons for so much occupational disease - chemicals are coded, which means that the worker doesn't know what he is exposed to in the environment; Factories are not properly maintained because that costs time and money and productivity is the main goal.

Tony Mazzocchi was a dynamic labor leader with the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union (now merged with the United Steelworkers Union) whose legacy lives on in today's workplaces and ongoing alliances between labor activists and environmentalists. His struggle to address the toxic exposure of tens of thousands of workers led to the passage of the US Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. Mazzocchi pushed OSHA into being. Mazzacchi led the public campaign that made all the difference. He conducted a series of very public workshops/hearings in the late 1960s at which workers provided detailed information about the horrendous working conditions on shop floors all over the U.S. and Canada.

As early as the 1950s, when the term "environment" was nowhere on the political radar, Mazzocchi learned about nuclear fallout and began integrating environmental concerns into his union work. His life is recounted in the 2007 biography, The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor: The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi, by author and labor expert Les Leopold.

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