A message from Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Workplace safety for all
Last year, many working men and women throughout the United States, including Teamster members, were killed and injured on the job due to unsafe conditions.
Thirty-six years ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Decades of struggle by workers and their Unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions. Unions have won laws and protections that have made workplaces safer for all workers. Union contracts have also given workers a voice on the job.
Nonetheless, the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. Hundreds of thousands of workers are injured or killed every year and railway incidents continue to be a leading cause of on-the-job fatalities.
Some groups of workers are particularly at risk, suffering very high rates of job injuries and fatalities. Hispanic and immigrant workers, who often work in the most dangerous jobs and are exploited by employers, have no union protections and are afraid to speak out. Many public sector workers also have no OSHA protection.
Hundreds of workers are fired or harassed by their employers each year simply for voicing job-safety concerns or reporting injuries. OSHA, Department of Transportation (DOT), and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) whistle-blower and anti-retaliation provisions are too weak to provide any real protection to workers who try to exercise their legal rights.
We need to join hands to seek stronger safety and health protections and better standards and enforcement. To quote Mother Jones, a small woman but a giant in the American labor movement, "Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living."
This June we are holding the first IBT International Convention since the mergers of the BLET, BMWED and GCIU with our union. We look forward to the discourse, debate and discussion that stems from the necessary union business we will undertake. We are keenly focused on creating stronger ties between each of the merged unions and the IBT. The most important goal is to increase the ability for us to organize more members and win collective bargaining agreements that will improve workers' lives. I believe we have the expertise and stamina to fight for working families. Our merged unions make us all stronger.
I look forward to seeing you at our convention on June 26.
- James P. Hoffa
- General President
© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen