150 Workers Die Every Day

By AFL-CIO

Today the AFL-CIO released our 27th annual Death on the Job report, highlighting a startling rise in workplace deaths in 2016. The report comes as the Trump administration continues to enact an aggressive deregulatory agenda, gutting safety rules and proposing deep cuts to worker safety and health training.

On a press call announcing the report, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters, “We’re facing a national crisis. And it’s time that folks in this town start acting like it.”

He pointed to some of the report’s most alarming findings:

    • 150 workers died each day from preventable, hazardous workplace conditions. Overall, the national job fatality rate increased to 3.6 per 100,000 workers from 3.4 in 2015.
    • 5,190 American workers died from on-the-job injuries in 2016, an increase from 4,836 deaths the previous year. Another estimated 50,000 to 60,000 died from occupational diseases.
    • Workplace violence is now the second-leading cause of workplace death, accounting for 866 workplace deaths, including 500 homicides.
    • Latino and immigrant workers continue to account for a disproportionate number of deaths on the job.
    • Workers in Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota suffered from the highest fatality rates.

Observe Workers Memorial Day This Saturday

Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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A Friendly Reminder

A Friendly Reminder