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One Year After 15 Died in Preventable Texas Fertilizer Blast, Safety Rules Stalled


When the West, Texas, fertilizer plant, where 30 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate—stored in wooden sheds without sprinkler systems and near other combustible material—caught fire, exploded and killed 15 people, including 10 emergency responders, the state of Texas had virtually no regulations governing ammonium nitrate and other hazardous chemicals. A year later, it still doesn’t.

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Make the Colombia Labor Rights Action Plan Work for Workers

Three years ago today, when the governments of Colombia and the United States signed the Labor Action Plan (LAP), Colombian workers hoped that systemic violence against labor activists and persistent employer abuses would at last come to an end. As Miguel Conde of the union SINTRAINAGRO explains in a new report by the AFL-CIO, palm workers at the Bucarelia plantation initially were hopeful, but the LAP profoundly failed to deliver meaningful change in their lives.

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Here’s What We’re Reading: Monday News Roundup

Here’s What We’re Reading: Monday News Roundup

Here are some headlines from the working families’ news we're reading today (after the jump).

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California Truckers Will Be Paid $2.2 Million in Misclassification Case

Photo courtesy Californiagal22 on Flickr

Think Progress reports that Pacer Cartage, a California logistics company, is being ordered to pay more than $2.2 million in back pay to short-haul truck drivers it illegally misclassified as independent contractors. The California Labor Commissioner's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement says that the company knew or should have known that the drivers were employees and not contractors and Pacer is required to pay restitution, attorney's fees and interest.

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Another Right-Wing Talking Point Falls: Americans Work Hard Even on Vacation

Photo courtesy Ziv Turner on Flickr

If you listen to extreme right-wing business types, you'd think that America's workers shouldn't be given paid vacation days, or any form of paid leave for that matter, because those workers will only abuse the days off and it'll hurt their employers' ability to even survive as a business. This opposition to paid leave has led to the United States being the only one of the world's 21 richest countries without mandated paid vacation days for all workers. According to a new survey from Glassdoor, however, America's workers are not only not abusing paid vacation days, or even using all of the ones they have, most people in America work during their paid vacations.

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Go to School if You Don't Like Making Minimum Wage...Oh, Wait a Minute

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The next time you hear someone say minimum wage workers need more education if they want to make living wages, pull this bad boy graphic up. 

Hat tip to Upworthy's Workonomics section

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2 Million, 2 Many: Yes, President Obama Can Stop Deportations

More than 1,000 people are deported every day. It is predicted that in April, the Obama administration will have deported 2 million people during its tenure. Amid congressional inaction, President Barack Obama and his administration need to hear from working families that we can't wait any longer for action. The president can take concrete, bold and necessary actions today to stop senseless deportations that tear families apart from each other. 

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Republicans Out on a Limb

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its latest numbers this week. Its preliminary number for people on payrolls, reported by private-sector establishments, is 116 million. That figure is higher than the last peak in January 2008, before President Barack Obama took office. This marks 49 straight months of job growth from the second year of the president’s first term. It took four years and three months for both the president and George W. Bush to get private-sector employment back to the level when they took office. The difference is that employment was falling when Obama took office, so it took an additional year to make up for the jobs lost during the Great Recession while Bush was still president.

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Young People Understand Unions Can Solve Problems

Image via Working America

The National Labor Relations Board’s Chicago regional director issued a notable finding last week: Football players at Northwestern University are employees of the university for purposes of federal labor law. The legal finding, however, is the result of something even more striking. The overwhelming majority of the talented young men who have been awarded scholarships to play on the Northwestern football team expressed their desire to be represented by a union. And they turned to the College Athletes Players Association to file a petition with the NLRB asking for an election to bargain collectively with the university. 

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The Cause He Died For

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library of Congress.

It's been 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his "War on Poverty." It was a time when the nation redefined its values, extending to millions of people the chance at last to be a part of the American Dream. A half century later, we have made enormous progress. But we still must do more to extend opportunity to those who live on society's margins. With patience, persistence and partnership, we can create economic opportunity for every person willing to work hard for it.

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#2Million2Many: Day of Action to Stop Deportations, April 5

#2Million2Many: Day of Action to Stop Deportations, April 5

Immigrant groups and their allies in the labor, faith and civil rights communities will hold a national day of action Saturday, April 5, to urge the Obama administration to suspend deportations—more than 1,000 a day—that are tearing apart immigrant families. 

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