April 28, 2015
TARA Takes Action on Worker Safety
Toward the end of our Workers Memorial Day program on April 28, Steelworker leader Jack Cavanaugh announced that we had gathered $100 to help the Texas City workers who are on strike for workplace safety. Earlier, he had explained that 1,100 workers had gone on strike 84 days earlier because the new owners, Marathon, were trying to reverse all the safety rules that the union had brought in since the disastrous explosion of March 23, 2005, when 15 workers were killed. On this years’ tenth anniversary of the tragedy, workers attempted to put crosses representing killed workers on the lawn at the workplace, but management prevented it. When they put the crosses into the ground nearby, managers from Marathon were seen, just a few hours later, pulling them up and throwing them into the dumpster!
Cavanaugh reported that 1,100 workers had been on strike for 84 days with NOT ONE person crossing the picket line! The group celebrating Workers Memorial Day was so moved that they spontaneously took up a collection! Richard Shaw of the Houston AFL-CIO says that other people can make contributions by writing checks to USW Strike Fund and sending them to USW 13-1 South Hall, 2327 Texas Ave., Texas City, TX 77590. They also need a lot of help with baby formula, diapers, and related goods.
Rebecca Martinez of UAW Local 218 gave most of the basic facts about safety conditions in America. She said that seven workers had lost their lives in the Bell Helicopter plant where she works. She said 4,593 Americans were killed on the job in the past year and that around 50,000 succumb to injuries and workplace-related illnesses every year. This years’ fashion for bosses is to tell workers to “do more with less,” Martinez said, and that is “a disaster waiting to happen.” She also emphasized the importance of retirees in using their long experience to help younger workers avoid injuries on the job.
Lorraine Birabil spoke on behalf of Congressman Marc Veasey, who was tied up with important votes in Washington. The Congressman told her to let our group know that “everybody should have a right to a safe and dignified workplace!”
After our short program, we chowed down on fried chicken and socialized for another hour or so. People went outside the union hall to see the only Workers Memorial Day monument in Texas.
Our North Dallas event was sponsored by the UAW Area Retiree Council and the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans.
—Gene Lantz, President
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