COSH Network e-newsletter: Summer 2013

8/8/13 10:41 AM

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COSH Network E-Newsletter: Summer 2013

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In This Issue:
New Associate COSH Members Gearing Up for National Worker Safety and Health Conference Southern California OSH Activists Conference Worker Training in Wyoming Two Worker Advocacy Networks Joining Forces Save the Date! New England Train the Trainer and National Temp Worker Forum National COSH Has Gone Mobile! Need Help Building a Website? Network Updates: Think Globally, Act Locally

New Associate COSH Members
The National COSH Network is thrilled to announce the addition of five new associate COSH groups! These new groups, located across the country, will add to the COSH Network’s ability to train and empower workers on their rights at work.

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The new associate members are: South Florida COSH, located in Miami; the Knox Area Worker Memorial Day Committee, located in Knoxville, Tenn.; WYCOSH, located in Casper, Wyo.; the Central New York Occupational Health Clinic, located in Syracuse, N.Y.; and the Houston Area COSH, located in Houston, Texas. These groups were all very active in planning Workers’ Memorial Day events and reports, and helped spread our messages around the country. They will join us on calls and at events or COSH Network and Protecting Workers Alliance. Don’t take our word for it. Hear from them! Please join us in welcoming these new groups and providing them with advice or assistance as needed. Introduce yourself. Find their contact info here.

Gearing Up for National Worker Safety and Health Conference

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National COSH and its allies are hard at work planning the third annual National Worker Safety and Health Conference, which will take place on December 10-12 near Baltimore, Md. (The internal COSH business meeting will be held December 9-10 in the same location.) This year’s conference is expected to be the biggest yet! We are in the process of finalizing workshops and speakers, but we are very excited about how everything is shaping up. Registration is now open. Take a look at the conference website and potential workshops, and remind yourself how fired up you were after last year’s conference! Interested in facilitating any of these workshops? Let us know!

Safe Jobs Save Lives!
SoCalCOSH, in conjunction with UCLA LOSH and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, sponsored a health and safety conference – “Safe Jobs Save Lives!” – on July 12 in Los Angeles. More than 250 representatives of labor unions, worker centers, government agencies, and communitybased organizations shared, debriefed and celebrated the tremendous work that OSH activists have been doing in Southern California. Worksafe helped to facilitate workshops on OSH policy. The group heard from powerful speakers, including the AFL-CIO's Maria Elena Durazo and Cal/OSHA chief Ellen Widess. Conference awardees included leaders in the campaign for California's heat standard. Click here for more information about the conference.

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Building Leaders, Growing a Movement!
At the core of COSH organizing is leadership. Behind every strategy, every meeting, and every training are worker leaders. And in small cities like Gillette, Wyo., immigrant worker leaders are creating new spaces for reflection and action, and asking important questions. These new spaces are being facilitated by the COSH Network and one of its newest associate members, Equality State Policy Center (ESPC). ESPC is a leading advocate and voice for workers in the energy industry and is committed to the fight for safe and healthy workplaces for ALL workers. On Saturday, June 15, SoCalCOSH’s Shirley Alvarado-del Aguila and National COSH’s Jessica Martinez traveled to Gillette to facilitate a bilingual worker leadership training among 15 workers who had never before received resources or information on workers’ rights. The full-day training covered basic worker rights, OSHA, and taking action. The reception was overwhelmingly positive, and the workers glowed with the spirit of empowerment and solidarity. But this is only the start. Gillette workers know that their continuous involvement is crucial in their efforts to exercise their full worker rights. Our hope is to return to Gillette one day and see a full blown COSH group or worker center organizing and leading programs that continues to foster leaders. “The immigrants working in mining, drilling and other industries in Gillette feel isolated and are hungry for information about job safety and their rights. Many of them speak little or no English. Sumaq and Jessica brought the health and safety message in Spanish, which made the conversation more lively and the participants more confident," said Dan Neal, head of ESPC. “The workshop demonstrated that they have allies and that they can organize to build better lives for themselves and their community. We’re looking forward to keeping things moving there.” Special thanks to Dan Neal, Andres Torres, Victor Pelayo, and Cristina Colling for their leadership and outreach efforts that made this training possible!

Two Worker Advocacy Networks Joining Forces

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In collaboration with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), National COSH offered a leadership training focused on building active worker committees on June 28 in Los Angeles with participants from worker centers from across the country. National COSH helped to strategize and build the skill set of NDLON’s staff and worker leaders in developing effective worker health and safety programs. The training began with an introduction to the COSH Network and finding parallels between our organizations’ agenda in worker advocacy. Participants noted a growing interest for local NDLON member organizations to team up with local COSH groups to expand the reach of their health and safety programs. The two groups are currently working to develop a worker resource booklet with information on worker rights and documentation of employer information. If your local COSH group is interested in learning about or partnering with a local NDLON member organization in your region, please visit www.ndlon.org.

New Faces on the Federal Government Level
We have a new U.S. Secretary of Labor! The U.S. Senate confirmed Thomas Perez as the new Labor Secretary in July after months of holding up his nomination. The Senate also confirmed Howard Shelanski to head up the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the agency tasked with reviewing many regulations that would protect public health and safety. Many proposed rules, including standards to protect workers from exposure to dangerous levels of silica dust on the job, have faced cumbersome delays – and have surpassed their congressionally mandated deadlines. With new leaders at the helm, we are hopeful that new protections will be passed to keep workers safe on the job. In the meantime, we are also identifying potential policies to push for on the state level. See box below for more information. Send your suggestions to Tom.

Save the Date! New England Train the Trainer
National COSH will hold a Train the Trainer for New England COSH groups (and others who may be
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interested) on November 7 somewhere in the greater Boston area. Contact Jessica if you have questions or are interested in joining.

National Temp Worker Forum
National COSH, in conjunction with MassCOSH, APHA's OHS Section and the National Staffing Workers Alliance, will hold a one-day forum on temp workers' health and safety in Boston on Saturday, November 2. Hear from health and safety advocates, organizers, researchers, and policymakers -- including OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels -- about how to improve safety and health for our country's contingent workforce.

National COSH Has Gone Mobile!

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We know, we know. We have a LOT of materials on our site. But navigating our website from your smartphone or tablet just got a lot easier – we’ve gone mobile! From your mobile device, visit www.coshnetwork.org (our regular website), and it should redirect you to the mobile version automatically. Or, if you prefer to see the regular site from your mobile device, there’s a link at the bottom of the mobile-friendly site to take you back there. To go to the mobile site directly, you can visit m.coshnetwork.org. Check it out!

Need Help Building a Website?
We know that there are COSH groups new and old who do not currently have a website. Dorry has been developing a free template to adapt through WordPress to give you a quick and easy Web presence. Contact her if you’re interested in setting one up.

Network Update: Think Globally, Act Locally
When we think of policy changes to improve worker safety and health conditions, we tend to think of legislative and regulatory changes to the OSH Act at the federal level. But given the gridlock in Washington these days, we can’t expect much of anything to come out of Congress. And federal regulatory action is painfully slow—sometimes measured in decades, as in the case of the proposed silica standard. But we shouldn’t forget that OSH policy can be set at the state, or even local, level as well. Some states have taken the initiative to act where Federal OSHA has not. Washington State, for example, has passed rules protecting health care workers from hazardous drug exposures and ergonomic hazards and retail workers from workplace violence. Some ten states have rules requiring that construction workers receive OSHA 10-hour training before beginning work. A number of other states have rules requiring certain employers to have written safety programs and/or safety committees. The National COSH is working on developing a set of priorities for state and local action to improve worker safety and health. We would love to hear your ideas on this. What issues do you think have the greatest potential for state and local policy action? What states or cities do you think might be

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good targets? We will be holding a series of conversations over the upcoming months to develop this agenda. Please share your thoughts with us. As always, thank you for all you do.

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