Unity resolutions

Three central labor councils in Ohio passed resolutions this week calling for labor unity in response to warnings of a possible split in the U.S. labor movement. CLCs in Dayton, Cincinnati, and Columbus (Franklin County) focused on the urgency of solidarity in the face of the anti-labor offensive of the Bush administration and corporate America. The Warren/Trumbell County AFL-CIO Retiree Council also passed a similar resolution.

In Philadelphia, a resolution passed unanimously June 15 by AFSCME District 47 stated that “divisions in the labor movement, always harmful and undesirable, are especially dangerous in the present political situation,” therefore the Council “appeals to all of our sisters and brothers in the labor movement to debate all differences and solve all problems, however substantial, within the structure of organizational unity of the AFL-CIO.”

JwJ to meet Sept. 22–25

“Educate, agitate and celebrate our growing movement” urged Jobs with Justice, announcing its Annual Meeting in St. Louis Sept. 22–25. The national community-labor organization’s newsletter promises more details shortly. Last year’s meeting in Miami brought together a diverse group of more than 1,000 people.

Angelica settles

A new contract signed by UNITE HERE and Angelica Corp. June 14 is a step forward for workers in both organized and unorganized plants of the national industrial laundry chain. The new collective bargaining agreement will cover 23 facilities already represented by the union in Antioch, Fresno, and Sacramento, Calif., Batavia, N.Y., Tampa, Fla., and Dallas and Wichita Falls, Texas. A union statement emphasizes the final agreement is subject to a ratification vote.

Also under the agreement, workers in Angelica’s nonunion plants will have “a fair selection process” to determine the question of union representation. A union spokesperson told the World that the process will vary from facility to facility, but in all cases will be a “majority verification process which includes neutrality. It won’t be the NLRB process where the company gets involved and campaigns against the union.”

‘Like working in the tailpipe of a bus’

“Working in an underground mine can be like working in the tailpipe of a bus,” said USW President Leo Gerard, June 7. Gerard criticized the U.S. Department of Labor for weakening the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s 2001 standard for diesel fumes underground.

“Diesel fumes cause cancer and lung disease,” Gerard said. The new standard

allows mine operators to avoid engineering controls and opt for having workers use respirators instead, a cost-saving alternative. But the extra effort to breath through respirators can cause severe harm to miners with undiagnosed heart or lung problems, said a union statement. “MSHA standards are supposed to save lives, not threaten them,” said Gerard.

Labor Update is compiled by Roberta Wood (rwood@pww.org).