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IndustriALL sets out union goals for decent work in the battery supply chain, organizing in Green Tech

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, November 20, 2020

IndustriALL Global Union represents workers along the entire battery supply chain, (except in China) through its international affiliates in mining, chemicals, energy, electronics, and the automotive sector. Canada’s Unifor is an affiliate. “Due diligence across the battery supply chain” (November 2020) describes that expanding and complex supply chain, from mining to processing to end-use products for batteries, and outlines the union’s aim to research and map it. IndustriALL’s aim is to “create a social dialogue scheme or platform with key stakeholders to achieve decent work for all throughout the supply chain. IndustriALL is the only global union who can coordinate unions around the world and contribute to the policy to achieve decent work around the battery supply chain. The international trade union movement becomes more important than ever. ” A separate post, “Developing a global trade union battery supply chain strategy” ( November 20) outlines further specifics about the union’s strategy and announces: “IndustriALL has applied for funding for a project starting in January 2021 on the battery supply chain across the industrial sectors. In a pilot project IndustriALL intends to collaborate with companies, NGOs and other associations to find out how such an approach can help to genuinely improve the situation workers along the entire battery supply chain.”

GreenTEch Manifesto for Mechanical Engineering

IndustriALL Global Union convened an online seminar on green technology in the mechanical engineering sector in early November 2020 – summarized here. The seminar was the occasion to launch a GreenTech Manifesto, which defines “Green technology” (GreenTech ) as “ any technology that promotes one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN summit in 2015, specifically clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, green industry, innovation and infrastructure, responsible consumption and production and climate action.”

At a previous IndustriALL workshop on Mechanical Engineering and GreenTech in December 2018, the President of Austrian trade union PRO-GE and co-chair of the sector, said: “As mechanical engineers and trade unionists, technology is the most important contribution we can make to mitigating climate change. We need hydro, we need wind, we need solar, we need biomass. And we need strong unions to ensure that energy transition is just.”

The new Greentech Manifesto states: “IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates need to be alert and present so that green jobs become good jobs with appropriate working and living conditions. To this end the participants at this IndustriALL Global Union GreenTech virtual workshop resolve to: § facilitate exchange between affected affiliates in the sector over new trends, especially focusing on GreenTech, digitization and related developments § organize training for trade union organizers and works councils to develop new methods, strategies and services to approach and recruit new employees at green workplaces § involve especially young workers and women in our work § intensify our efforts to increase trade union power in the affected sectors through organizing and recruiting.”

Decent work in the management of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste)

By staff - International Labour Organization, April 2019

At its 329th Session (March 2017), the Governing Body of the International Labour Office decided that a Global Dialogue Forum on decent work in the management of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) would be held in Geneva. During its 334th Session (October– November 2018), it decided that the date of the meeting would be 9–11 April 2019 and that all interested governments should be invited. Eight Employer and eight Worker participants would be appointed on the basis of nominations made by their respective groups in the Governing Body, and selected intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations would be invited as observers.

The purpose of the Global Dialogue Forum is to discuss current and emerging issues and opportunities related to the promotion of decent work in the management of e-waste, with the aim of adopting points of consensus, including recommendations for future action by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its Members. Taking place in the centennial year of the ILO, the Forum is also an opportunity to discuss more broadly the future of work in the circular economy.

Read the report (Link).

Recycling is a Feel Good Activity, But Not for Workers Hurt or Killed on the Job

By Brian Joseph - Fair Warning, April 12, 2016

Darkness had enveloped the Newell Recycling yard by the time Erik Hilario climbed into a front-end loader on a cold evening in January 2011. Just 19 years old, Hilario, an undocumented immigrant, had followed his father from Mexico to an industrial park in East Point, Ga., near Atlanta, where they worked as low-skilled laborers amid jagged piles of scrap metal bound for the smelter.

Hilario drove to a paved section of the nine-acre yard known as the defueling or car-processing area. Here, according to witnesses in a court case, gasoline was removed from junked cars through a crude process employing a 30-foot crane and a long spike welded atop a metal trough. A claw attached to the crane would pick up cars and smash them, gas-tank first, onto the spike, spilling gasoline into the trough. The crane then would swing the cars across the pavement and drop them onto a pile, dripping gas along the way. Hilario was using the loader – which Newell later would say he was not trained or authorized to operate – to scrape up bits of metal left behind.

Hilario was slowly pushing the scraps into a pile when an intense fire suddenly engulfed him. A spark had ignited gasoline on the ground. “Help me!” he screamed, co-workers later testified in the case.

A green industry

Recycling may be good for the environment, but working conditions in the industry can be woeful. Recycling encompasses a wide range of businesses, from tiny drop-off centers operating out of strip malls and parking lots, to sprawling scrapyards and cavernous sorting plants, where cardboard, plastic and metal destined for places like China and Turkey are separated. The recycling industry also includes collection services, composting plants and e-waste and oil recovery centers. Some of these jobs rank among the most dangerous in America. Others offer meager pay, and minimum wage violations are widespread. Experts say much of the work is carried out by immigrants or temporary workers who are unaware of their rights or are poorly trained.

“These are not good jobs,” said Jackie Cornejo, former director of Don’t Waste LA, a campaign to improve the working conditions and pay for workers in the Los Angeles municipal waste and recycling industries. “People only hear about the feel-good aspects of recycling and zero waste, and rarely do they hear about the other side,” she said.

Despite its virtuous image as one of the original green industries, recycling is dirty, labor-intensive work. It involves loud, heavy machinery, including semis, forklifts, conveyor belts, loaders, cranes, shredders and grinders, all of which pose a serious threat to life and limb, especially if they’re not properly serviced or lack basic safety features, which is often the case at recycling firms. Unlike manufacturing, recycling cannot be completely systematized because it depends on an ever-changing flow of recyclable materials that come in all manner of shapes and sizes. This can require recycling workers to personally handle most of the scrap passing through a facility, potentially exposing them to carcinogens, explosives or toxics, to say nothing of sharp objects.

Exposures are especially problematic at e-scrap and battery recycling facilities, where the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has found workers with elevated levels of lead in their blood or on their skin.

In one case in Ohio, the high lead levels in the blood of a young brother and sister were traced to the work performed by their father, a former e-scrap recycling worker who crushed cathode ray tubes. The father didn’t wear any protective gear at work and often came home with dust in his hair. High lead levels also were found in the children of workers at a battery recycling plant in Puerto Rico.

While major corporations like Waste Management are in the recycling business, many of the companies that do this work are small, which can mean they lack the knowledge and resources to establish effective safety procedures. Recycling workers, by virtue of their immigration status or status as temps, often hesitate to speak up when they see hazards on the job or are victimized by the outright illegal behavior of their supervisors.

One of the largest sectors in recycling, scrapyards, has long had high fatality and injury rates. In 2014, for example, that sector’s fatality rate was 20.8 deaths per every full-time 100,000 workers, more than nine times higher than manufacturing workers overall. That same year, garbage and recycling collectors had the fifth-highest fatality rate among the dozens of occupations analyzed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

No one tracks how many workers die across all recycling sectors. But at scrapyards and sorting plants, at least 313 recycling workers have been killed on the job from 2003 to 2014, according to figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A FairWarning analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration records found that inspections conducted from 2005 to 2014 resulted with scrapyards and sorting facilities receiving about 80 percent more citations than the average inspected worksite.

Industry leaders and safety consultants say it’s no secret that recycling firms have to do a better job of following basic safety procedures, like installing guarding on conveyor belts or properly shutting off machines before maintenance. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a trade association, recently announced that it is partnering with OSHA to try to reduce injury and fatality rates.

OSHA has limited resources, especially given the sheer number of worksites it oversees. The AFL-CIO calculates that with current staffing levels federal OSHA can only inspect worksites once, on average, every 140 years.

“Systematically, across the country, (OSHA officials) haven’t given the industry the attention it’s due,” said Eric Frumin, the health and safety coordinator for Change to Win, a partnership of four national unions. Although OSHA says that five of its 10 regions have special enforcement programs covering sectors of the recycling industry, safety advocates say it isn’t enough. They are lobbying the agency to create a national program aimed at sorting plants, where recyclables like metal, paper and plastic are separated. “It’s a low end of the economy,” Frumin said. “We’ve shipped all the factory jobs to China, so what is the modern-day equivalent of dirty, dangerous factory jobs? Warehouses and recycling plants.”

Public Letter To SF Mayor Ed Lee, Sheriff Mirkarimi, and SF Sups On Hanging Nooses

By Darryl Washington - United Public Workers for Action, September 18, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Greetings Mayor Ed Lee, Sheriff Mirkarimi, and San Francisco Supervisors. I pray this email finds you and your families in good health.

My name is Daryle Washington and I'm sending this email due to frustration at the lack of concern from City Government after I and other employees suffered a noose being placed on a Black workers belongings, and the events that followed from a corporation that San Francisco contracts to pick up garbage, compost, and recycling to name a few of the services offered by Recology.

I brought these issues to many in City Government through email over a year ago and only two supervisors responded. I am thankful that one responded and that was Malia Cohen. I find it troubling that an investigation into the allegations of a noose being placed at a business in San Francisco, which has a major contract with San Francisco didn't happen. I also find it troubling that as I have spoken to some that hold elected offices in San Francisco that they have heard about the incidents but have no full knowledge of what happened. I further find it troubling that I was not contacted or a reply sent based on my email over a year ago. 

What I am asking for is that San Francisco Government launch an investigation into racism, harassment, retaliation, terrorist threats, bullying, and corruption by Recology. Have them open up the books and let's see if they have been hiding mistreatment of Black workers. I'm am optimistic that Black Lives Matter enough to City Government to look into what I and other employees went through in 2013. Anything less than publicly condemning all noose incidents in this wonderful city is an injustice to all Black workers and residents of this great city. A zero tolerance policy of any and all companies and or corporations that are contracted or subcontracted by San Francisco.

There may be action taken in the near future at Recology after the scheduled September 21st rally at Recology, which may include a press conference on the steps of City Hall demanding justice from San Francisco City Government and officials for Black and Brown workers at Recology and all City businesses, especially the ones contracted and or subcontracted by the city of San Francisco, funded by tax payers.

Lastly let us never forget that "A injustice to one is an injustice to us all" and I would like to add that standing by doing nothing makes us all just as guilty as the person or persons acting unjust.

Below I have a few links that will help paint a clear picture of what I have been through, but I am not alone, I'm the one who decided to stand up and no longer take the injustices from Recology.

EcoUnionist News #59

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, August 4, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Ongoing Mobilizations:

Bread and Roses:

Stop Retaliation & Hanging Noose Incidents: Defend Recology IBT 350 Member Daryl Washington

By Steve Zeltser - Labor Video Project, July 27, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

San Francisco Recology company has retaliated against IBT 350 member Daryl Washington who reported on a "San Francisco Recology company has retaliated against IBT 350 member Daryl Washington who reported on a "hanging noose" incident at the company in 2013.

The company discriminated against him and sought to buy his silence with a bribe. Speakers pointed out that workplace bullying is a growing issue in the workplace including many other locations.

This rally/press conference which took place on July 27, 2015 was endorsed by United Public Workers For Action, Stop Workplace Bullying Group, and Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.

Additional video - http://youtu.be/g5PBHHR2m38
Production of Labor Video Project

SF Rally/Press Conference Against Racist Hanging Noose At SF Recology

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Enough Is Enough! - Stop Racist Noose Incidents & Workplace Bullying At SF Recology

Monday July 27, 2015 12:00 Noon
Recology Company 501 Tunnel Avenue, SF

Daryle Washington, an IBT 350 member and worker at the Recology Company in San Francisco  has faced a hanging noose and other racist attacks at the Recology Company. For speaking up against these assaults Washington faced retaliation and workplace  bullying  when he blew the whistle on these racist incidents against him and other workers at the facility.
We call for Recology to immediately take action to stop these incidents and end the retaliation against Daryle Washington.

Other workers and trade unionists will be speaking out against the continuing hanging noose incidents and also the epidemic of workplace bullying.

Sponsored by

For information contact info [at] upwa.info | (415)282-1908

Background Information

Endorsed by Michelle Smith, Bully Free Workplace, Derrick Boutte, James Charas, Harold Fong, Brenda Barros, Daz Lamparas, Carrie Clark

EcoUnionist News #57

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 23, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Bread and Roses:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism #IWW

Sustainable and Safe Recycling: Protecting Workers Who Protect the Planet

By GAIA - Partnership for Working Families, MassCOSH, and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, June 23, 2015

Zero waste is the future. Growth in the recycling economy has the potential to not only conserve the environment, but also create 1.5 million new jobs. But research indicates that recycling work can be dangerous, with injury rates more than double the national average. By addressing this problem, local governments have an opportunity to secure the sustainability and health of their cities while ensuring that recycling jobs are good jobs. Recyclers deserve safe working conditions, as they protect public health and the planet from waste, pollution, and resource depletion.

The environmental necessity of recycling is well-established: achieving a 75% recycling rate would yield greenhouse gas emission reductions equivalent to shutting down one-fifth of all U.S. coal power plants (Tellus 2011). A growing number of cities recognize recycling as a key component of their local climate action plans (West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum 2012). In short, recycling provides proven benefits for clean air and waste reduction, and along with other zero waste strategies it can offer a critical pathway for municipalities to achieve sustainable growth.

Recycling can also play a key role in urban job creation strategies. At our current national recycling rate of 34.5%, the U.S. recycling industry employs nearly 1 million people and generates billions of dollars of economic activity annually (Tellus 2011, USEPA 2012).

Studies have shown that recycling creates at least 10 times as many jobs per ton of waste as disposal in either incinerators or landfills, and that investments in recycling, composting, and recycling reliant manufacturing could produce 1.5 million more jobs across the country.

But recycling workers face serious hazards on the job. In too many cities across the country, sorters work in loud and dusty facilities where they are often exposed to extreme temperatures. Working long hours, they lean over conveyor belts sorting materials – pulling out things that don’t belong, ensuring the best quality materials are bundled together for the highest value. They work with heavy equipment in dangerous situations – climbing onto and into massive conveyor belts and balers to clean them. They maneuver past huge front-end loaders and forklifts, and walk by heavy bales of material that, when unsafely managed, can fall on workers who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Moreover, they deal with an array of inherently unsafe materials that should not be on the recycling line – used needles, chemicals, dead animals and broken glass. As a result of these unsafe conditions, recycling workers face above-average injury rates and are sometimes even killed on the job.

Many recycling sorters are employed by temp agencies, further increasing the likelihood that they won’t have the training or experience needed to do their job safely. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Occupational hazards can be mitigated, and in some cases eliminated, with a combination of engineering controls, improved safety systems, work practices, and extensive training.

There are important actions and best management practices that cities can and should take to improve recycling jobs. Cities that offer curbside recycling service generally contract with private companies to process recyclable materials collected from households. To ensure safe and dignified recycling jobs, municipal governments must require rigorous health and safety standards in recycling contracts.

This report offers a unique inside look at the working conditions faced by recycling workers across the United States, as well as a series of specific policy recommendations that municipal decision makers should follow to improve industry accountability and health and safety outcomes. It also includes practical recommendations for public education programs that can prevent dangerous materials from entering the recycling stream. Our analysis is based on occupational health studies, OSHA reports about health and safety violations, articles from news media and industry trade publications, interviews with recycling workers, and first-hand observation of recycling work.

Our findings underscore the need for urgent action to improve health and safety conditions for recycling workers. Improving the recycling sector overall is not only possible – it’s imperative for averting today’s ecological crises, and protecting the health and well-being of this important group of climate workers who protect us all.

Read the report (PDF).

Cultivating Climate Justice: Brazilian Workers Leading the Charge Toward Zero Waste

By Beverly Bell - Climate Connections, November 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This is part 1 of a four-part article series “Cultivating Climate Justice” which tells the stories of community groups on the front lines of the pollution, waste and climate crises, working together for systems change. United across six continents, these grassroots groups are defending community rights to clean air, clean water, zero waste, environmental justice, and good jobs. They are all members of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a network of over 800 organizations from 90+ countries.

This series is produced by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Other Worlds.

The streets of Belo Horizonte were filled with singing, dancing, chanting, and marching. It was not a holiday or an election day or a soccer game. The chant was: “We don’t want incineration! Recycle! Recycle!”

It was September 19, 2014, and this was the launch of a national Zero Waste Alliance, Brazil style. Exuberant, celebratory, and led by recycling workers.

The recycling workers of Brazil have long been a powerful force in protecting their communities and the climate. Now they are on the forefront of a nation-wide movement for zero waste.

Pages

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