USW Activists Kick Off Health and Safety Conference

More than 1,500 USW members kicked off the union’s 2018 Health, Safety and Environment conference on Monday in Pittsburgh by celebrating the union’s recent victories in the battle for greater protections for working people and renewing their commitment to continue that fight.

“This is the largest gathering of safety and health representatives in the world,” International Vice President Tom Conway told the delegation. “A lot of progress has been made, but let’s be clear-eyed about where we are.”

The current administration in Washington, D.C., beholden to Wall Street and corporate interests, has made no secret of its desire to undo health and safety regulations across a wide range of industries, Conway said.

Recent USW victories include a new OSHA standard for workplace exposure to silica, as well as updated process safety management (PSM) standards for oil refineries in California and Washington state.

Workers must be relentless in their commitment to safer workplaces in order to ensure continued progress, he said.

“That’s your job,” Conway told the delegates at Monday’s union-only session.

This year’s health and safety conference set a record for attendance, with nearly 1,800 attendees expected, including USW members, Communications Workers of America (CWA) members and representatives of management.

The conference, which runs through Friday afternoon, includes more than 220 workshops, along with speeches, panel discussions, district caucuses and other events.

International Vice President Carol Landry addressed the delegates about the pervasiveness of domestic violence and sexual harassment across North America, arguing that the problem is not a private issue, but a workplace and a union issue.

Nearly 8 million work days are lost each year due to domestic violence, Landry said. In addition, many abusive partners may find access to their victims in the abused partner’s workplace.

“That makes it a union issue,” Landry said. “Violence against women remains a powerful barrier against women’s equality.”

Conference participants also heard remarks from USW Health, Safety and Environment Director Mike Wright, CWA Occupational Safety and Health Director David Legrande, USW District 3 Director Steve Hunt, and Jordan Barab, former deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.

2018 USW Health & Safety Conference-DAY ONE

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