We are dedicated to informing our members and building solidarity. It is our pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the membership of United Steelworkers Local 2227. It is the goal of this local to represent every member to its fullest; to protect your rights as an individual and as a worker and to ensure your safety on the job. This local will do everything within its means to further the principles of the United Steelworkers: that all members are treated fairly, paid justly for their work and afforded the respect and dignity they deserve. This local is here to serve you and I am honored to serve as your president. Kevin McKelvey President local 2227
6-11-2013 The Union would like to inform our members of their rights guaranteed by the BLA and the OSHA Act;
You have the right to refuse unsafe work. Article 3 of the BLA You have the right to file a grievance for discrimination if you are disciplined solely for reporting an injury. Article 3.K.3. of the BLA.
However, we realize that the grievance procedure itself can be long and arduous so the Union is also reminding its member's that other avenues are also available to you and they are;
Rights guaranteed by the Department of Labor "OSHA"
· Request an OSHA investigation if you believe hazardous conditions or violations of standards exist in your workplace.
· Review copies of appropriate OSHA standards, rules, regulations and requirements that the employer should have available at the workplace.
· Request information from your employer on safety and health hazards, on precautions that may be taken and on procedures to be followed if an employee is involved in an accident or is exposed to toxic substances.
· Receive adequate training and information on workplace safety and health hazards.
OSHA 11(c)Rights: Protection for Using Rights
Employees have a right to seek safety and health on the job and report injuries without fear of punishment. The law also says employers shall not punish or discriminate against workers for exercising rights such as:
· Complaining to an employer, union, OSHA or any other government agency about job safety and health hazards;
· Filing safety or health grievances;
· Participating on a workplace safety and health committee or in union activities concerning job safety and health.
· Participating in OSHA inspections, conferences, hearings, or other OSHA-related activities.
· Reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality.
If an employee is exercising these or other OSHA rights, the employer is not allowed to discriminate against that worker in any way.
A Union Representative can also file the 11(c) complaint for the worker.
In some cases our members choose to file an OSHA complaint in addition to the grievance procedure and that is their right.
Remember… The best thing that ever came out of a steel mill… was a Steelworker!
New OSHA Policy Memorandum on Employer Practices that can Discourage Injury and Illness Reporting “Reporting a work-related injury or illness is a core employee right, and retaliating against a worker for reporting an injury or illness is illegal discrimination.”
In March, 2012 OSHA issued a memorandum titled “Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices”. This memorandum outlines OSHA’s position regarding employer policies and practices that discourage workers from reporting job injuries and illnesses. It explains workers’ legal protections for reporting injuries and illnesses under Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, other whistleblower programs (such as the Federal Railway Safety Act) and under OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule (29 CFR 1904).
Which Employer Policies and Practices Could Be Illegal?
The memorandum gives examples of four types of employer policies and practices that could violate OSHA Section 11(c) and other whistleblower protections and could also result in violations of OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements:
• Injury Discipline: Where employers have a policy or practice of disciplining workers who report injuries, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the injury. This would violate 11(c) and could also violate an employers’ obligation to establish a way for employees to report injuries as required by OSHA’s recordkeeping rule.
• Discipline for “Untimely” Reporting of Injuries or for Not Reporting Injuries in the Way Required by the Employer: Where employers have rules that all injuries must be reported immediately, and workers are disciplined even in cases where they do not immediately realize that an injury or illness has occurred or that an injury and illness was serious enough to be reported; or where the employer’s reporting requirements are unreasonable, unduly burdensome or enforced with unjustifiably harsh penalties.
• Discipline for “Violating a Safety Rule”: When employers use violating a safety rule as an excuse for disciplining workers who report job injuries and illnesses; or when employers have vague rules like a requirement that employees “maintain situational awareness” or “work carefully” and then only discipline workers for violating those rules when they report injuries. Enforcing such rules more harshly against injured employees than noninjured employees may suggest that the rule is a pretext for discrimination against an injured employee in violation of OSHA section 11(c).
• Safety Incentive Programs: Where employees are disqualified from rewards and prizes because injuries and illnesses are reported. Incentive programs that unintentionally or intentionally provide employees an incentive not to report injures can be a violation of 11(c) and result in unreported injuries in violation of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule.
In addition, OSHA’s memorandum states, “OSHA has also observed that the potential for unlawful discrimination under all of these policies may increase when management or supervisory bonuses are linked to lower reported injury rates.” OSHA highlights in the memorandum,
“If employees do not feel free to report injuries or illnesses, the employer’s entire workforce is put at risk. Employers do not learn of and correct dangerous conditions that have resulted in injuries, and injured employees may not receive the proper medical attention, or the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled. Ensuring that employees can report injuries and illnesses without fear of retaliation is therefore crucial to protecting workers health and safety.”
What Unions Can Do
• Send us copies of written programs or policies that you believe can discourage workers from reporting injuries or illnesses. See below for contact information for the USW Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department.
Download a copy of the OSHA memorandum at http://www.osha.gov/as/opa/whistleblowermemo.html and share it with management, making them aware of OSHA’s new guidance on these policies and practices. You can also read OSHA Section 11(c) at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=11333.
Contact OSHA’s whistleblower program (call 1-800-321-OSHA for the OSHA office nearest you) to discuss filing formal complaints for violations of OSHA’s Section 11(c) or other whistleblower protections and/or OSHA’s Recordkeeping Rule. The USW HSE Department can assist (contact information below). Note that an OSHA 11(c) discrimination complaint must be filed within 30 days of the employer’s adverse action. Unions can assist members in filing 11(c) discrimination claims. Again, the USW HSE Department can help local unions and Staff Representatives with this.
• Inform and educate your members about OSHA’s new guidance on employer policies and practices that can discourage workers from reporting job injuries and illnesses. Also let members know about the union’s availability to help protect workers’ rights to report injuries and illnesses without suffering retaliation. The USW HSE Department can provide materials and assistance (contact info below).
• If your employer is covered by the National Labor Relations Act (or other labor law with similar provisions), an employer’s unilateral implementation of a new safety incentive or discipline policy could be an unfair labor practice; mid-term bargaining rights should be considered. Contact your Staff Representative for assistance.
Please keep the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department posted as you address these issues. Contact us at 412-562-2581 and send questions or updates to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send copies of policies/programs to: Health, Safety and Environment Department Rm. 902, United Steelworkers International Union, 5 Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; or fax to 412-562-2584; or scan/email to email@example.com. Thank you!
In a USW-represented facility where management had recently introduced a safety discipline practice that resulted in discipline to workers who reported injuries, the union’s safety rep provided management with a copy of OSHA’s Memorandum. Management withdrew the safety discipline policy, rescinded the discipline it had given, and apologized to the local union.
April 2013 2013 1st Qtr. Profit Sharing The estimated payment would approximately equal a full profit sharing payment of $ 168.00 for the quarter.
Member’s profit sharing is determined by the total hours worked during the applicable quarter with eligible hours capped at 40 per week.
This Union negotiated benefit should be paid by May 15, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Sanders, Rep. Peter DeFazio introduce bills to strengthen benefits.
Washington, D.C. (Mar. 7)
Leo W. Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers (USW) today released a letter supporting today’s introduction of legislation by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to strengthen Social Security by making the wealthiest Americans pay the same payroll tax that nearly everyone else already pays.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced the companion bill in the House. The legislation is titled: ‘Keeping Our Social Security Promises Act of 2013.’
“The United Steelworkers is proud to stand with you and support this vital legislation to protect the integrity and longevity of our nation’s retirement system,” Gerard wrote. “Your bill will make Social Security fully solvent for the next 75 years and do so without having to take the damaging actions some have so callously called for; such as raising the retirement age, or cutting modest benefits that often are the difference between a retirement lived in dignity, or one lived in fear and poverty.”
Sen. Sanders announced the bill at a press event in the U.S. Capitol, saying: “Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation's history. Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid out every benefit owed to every eligible American.” He added: “The most effective way to strengthen Social Security for the future is to eliminate the cap on the payroll tax on income above $250,000 so millionaires and billionaires pay the same share as everyone else.”
Reid said of Sen. Sanders’ legislation: “His legislation should make people think twice before assuming that the only way to strengthen Social Security is to take away benefits that seniors have earned, or raise taxes on the middle class.”
Under their legislation, those with yearly incomes of $250,000 or more would pay the same 6.2 percent payroll tax already assessed on those who earn up to $113,700 a year. Applying the Social Security payroll tax on income above $250,000 would only affect the wealthiest 1.3 percent of Americans, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Since it was signed into law 77 years ago, Social Security has kept millions of senior citizens, widows, widowers, orphans, and the disabled out of poverty. According to Sen. Sanders, it is the most successful government program in our nation's history and has not contributed to the federal deficit.
Republicans Plan to Cancel Health Insurance Benefits
Republicans in Congress have announced their intention to repeal the new health insurance reform legislation, and all of its benefits for senior citizens, people with pre-existing conditions and children.
The GOP wants to vote to rescind the benefits provided under the Affordable Care Act before President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., provides on his website a description of the new law’s benefits – benefits that Pennsylvanians would lose if Republicans successfully repeal the Affordable Care Act. Sen. Casey’s account is accurate for other states as well, with the only difference the number of people who would suffer if the GOP succeeds.
For example, the Senator notes that the new law already has provided two important benefits, the small business health care tax credit and the health insurance program for people who have pre-existing conditions and who have been denied health insurance.
In addition, the senator’s website notes that beginning in January, Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get an annual wellness visit.
A comprehensive guide to the law’s benefits for Pennsylvanians, which applies residents of all states, also is posted on the Senator’s site. It notes, for example, that the new law, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, will provide coverage for 32 million uninsured people while reducing the federal deficit by $143 billion over the next decade. And it notes that the law empowers the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state insurance commissioners to review new plans that announce egregious premium increases.
These are just some of the benefits that Republicans seek to deny Americans, while, at the same time, increasing the national deficit.
Kevin: As I reported earlier they say Health Care doesn't matter. Take a moment and watch this video and tell me different.
The story of Travis Turner, the son of a Steelworker brother, will touch your heart. And remind you why the Affordable Care Act is hope delivered.
When Travis Turner was 9 months old he was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer and almost died. His father, Craig, is a member of USW Local 7248 in Ohio, and the family had good, union-negotiated health care through work.
But just three months later, while fighting for his life in the intensive care unit, Travis was kicked off his father's plan because the cost of the baby's care had reached the $1 million cap set by the insurance company. Now, at age 7, Travis is a happy, healthy first-grader. And thanks to the Affordable Health Act championed by President Obama, he's back on his family's insurance.
Watch Travis' inspirational story then help spread the word.
Vacation Issue Resolved
There has always been an issue with respect to eligibility for the $250/week Vacation Bonus as called for in the contract when one retires. Note actual Basic Labor Agreement language below:
A vacation bonus of $250 per week will be paid to Employees for each week of vacation taken from work in the ten (10) consecutive calendar week period beginning with the first full week following the calendar week containing New Year's Day.
At question was whether a member had to return to work, say following a five week period of vacation, prior to retiring in order to be eligible for the weekly bonus. Early on there was some confusion between the Parties, with the Company sighting the operable phrase in the above language, “vacation taken from work” to mean that if you did not have a clock ring-in with a few hours or so on your card, after vacation and prior to commencing retirement, you would be ineligible for the bonus payment. So we advised members to return to work for a few hours following vacation.
Well, that matter has now been clarified by IR and Payroll... A member does not have to have “time worked on his/her card” (ring-in/ring-out) for some length of time, but rather the retirement date has to simply be AFTER the vacation period. As long as the pension effective date is subsequent to the end of the vacation period, members will be eligible for vacation bonus for each week of vacation taken with no need to return to the plant.
USW Local 2227
1301 Philip Murray Road West Miflin, Pennsylvania