Hot Weather Now a Major Cause of Illness and Death for U.S. Workers

BY MARK GRUENBERG

Hot weather becomes major cause of illness, death for U.S. workers“2015 Lineman’s Rodeo 05012015 017” by City of Marietta, GA is licensed under CC BY 2.0 Hot weather now a major cause of illness and death for U.S. workers.

TUCSON, Ariz. (PAI)—Four years ago, on a 95-degree afternoon in Tucson, Ariz., a worker was building a platform for an outdoor concert. He hasn’t worked since.

The worker, whose name advocates are withholding because he both fears retribution and being barred from future jobs was putting heavy 4’x 8’ decks up after lunch, says Shannon Foley, a safety and health activist in the southern Arizona city. Then he collapsed.

The extreme heat felled him. Paramedics attended to him, and later sent him home, she reported. But he had suffered kidney damage, “and has not recovered and returned fully to work. He’s had serious financial issues ever since,” said Foley, a member of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 415. Her local includes stage builders.

The Arizonan is just one victim of a largely ignored workplace danger, heat, say Tucson workers and activists, convened August 19 by the labor-backed National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH).

It’s particularly acute in Arizona, the 10th hottest state, studies show. “In Phoenix, in summer, it’s 95 degrees at 6 am,” says Foley. Daytime temperatures in Phoenix and Tucson regularly top 100 degrees in the summer, records add. That heat takes a big toll on workers.

“Injuries and illnesses due to heat are not properly reported,” says Jessica Martinez, NACOSH’s co-executive director. Often, they’re put down to other causes, she adds. “People are dying every day, and they’re not attributing it to heat,” says Foley.

The problem particularly hits workers of color, Martinez noted. She cited a National Public Radio investigation, released August 17, showing Hispanic-named workers account for 17% of all U.S. workers, and one-third of those felled by excessive heat.

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Republican Filibuster is Only the Beginning of Epic Voting Rights Battle (+1 more)

BY MARK GRUENBERG AND JOHN WOJCIK

Republican filibuster is only the beginning of epic voting rights battleDemonstrators hold up signs as the Declaration for American Democracy coalition hosts a rally calling on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, outside the Supreme Court in Washington on June 9, 2021. | Caroline Brehman / CQ Roll Call via AP

WASHINGTON—It is no surprise that despite a spate of endorsements and a rally of backers Tuesday on Capitol Hill, the Senate sponsor of the For The People Act expects it’ll hit a Republican rock in a Senate vote to bring it up for debate.

Democratic President Joe Biden calls the For The People Act (S1/HR1) the most vital legislation of his presidency, in terms of preserving democracy in the U.S. But in another repeat of the GOP’s all-out assault on freedom, voting rights, and the U.S. Constitution, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky plans to have his entire caucus block it. That will be enough to block a vote from taking place Tuesday but will do nothing to prevent a firestorm of protest to spread across the country in what will be an epic battle to preserve democracy.

Labor and all of its allies, often led by groups like Indivisible, will make July a month of misery for cowardly Republicans who, afraid to separate themselves from Donald Trump and the Big Lie, and now afraid to buck McConnell in his attack on voting rights, will have to face the people they represent during the July Senate break.

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Not Waiting for Congress, Justice Dept. to Move on Voting Rights

BY MARK GRUENBERG

Not waiting for Congress, Justice Dept. to move on voting rightsAttorney General Merrick Garland, admitting it will be tough, says he is determined to use the power of the Justice Department to fight for the voting rights of the American people. Drew Angerer/Associated Press

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Not waiting for the Republican-clogged U.S. Senate to act, the Democratic Biden administration’s Justice Department will step up voting rights enforcement, big time. And it’ll concentrate its resources—and its lawyers’ talents–on states like Florida and Texas that are the biggest threats to voters, especially voters of color but also working-class voters in general.

And organized labor, led by the AFL-CIO, and 86 other unions, civil rights, and civic groups, all organized by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, is cheering Biden’s Attorney General, Merrick Garland, on.

“Barriers to the ballot box are antithetical to our democracy and must be torn down,” they declared.

Poor Peoples Campaign activists march in West Virginia to get Sen. Manchin to come out in support of the For the Peoples Act, which would nullify recent attacks on voting rights passed by the GOP in several states. Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, delivers a speech targeting Manchin, June 14, 2021, in Charleston, W.Va. Cuneyt Dil | AP

Garland’s June 11 speech came as the Senate prepares to vote on the For The People Act (HR1/S1), and as progressive groups, including the Poor People’s Campaign and Our Revolution—the Bernie Sanders supporters—step up their lobbying for it. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to bring it to the floor the week of June 21, even without the votes to pass it.

And he doesn’t have them. In the 50-50 Senate, GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has united almost his entire caucus against it. And Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., the most conservative Senate Democrat has proposed a stripped-down alternative which, he hopes, will bring along the ten Republicans needed to halt the GOP filibuster.

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Republicans’ Jim Crow 2.0 Voter Suppression Laws Spark Fight for Democracy (+1 more)

BY LEE DLUGIN

Republicans’ Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression laws spark fight for democracyPeople rally outside of the Capitol in Lansing, Mich., April 13, 2021, during a rally to support voting rights and end voter suppression. | Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal via AP

The country is today faced with a fundamental crisis with the proliferation of voter suppression laws, nullification of votes cast, and the determination of the Republican Party and pro-fascist forces to prevent people—particularly African Americans, Latinx, youth, and seniors—from voting.

The so-called excuse for this proliferation is the myth of voter fraud, the same false excuse made for the last 30 years. The right-wing rationale for this myth is to undermine people’s confidence in the electoral system. This fraud is taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona right now with a fourth, and now secret, recount is being done by a private firm with no accountability or transparency almost six months after the election.

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Postal Workers Fight DeJoy Plan to Close Processing Centers and Eliminate Jobs

BY MARK GRUENBERG

Postal Workers fight DeJoy plan to close processing centers and eliminate jobsPostal workers sort mail at the U.S. Postal Service processing and distribution center in Oakland, Calif., on April 30, 2020. Trump-imposed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to close 18 such processing centers nationwide. | Ben Margot / AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—The 10-year U.S. Postal Service “reform” plan unveiled by Trump-imposed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy includes “the good, the bad, and the ugly” among its elements American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein says.

And right now, he adds, DeJoy is pushing the bad ahead of the good, as the PMG delivered a notice to the nation’s postal unions on April 27 that he intends to close 18 processing centers nationwide, shifting their services elsewhere.

The closures, Dimondstein said in a video Q-and-A with APWU members that night, would slow down service and cost postal workers’ jobs. “Fighting the closures is not easy, but it can be done if we mobilize,” he said.

He’s put union Vice President Debby Szeredy in charge of APWU’s panel of postal craft leaders to deal with DeJoy’s plans and mobilize members against them.

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