×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 2485

" DISCLAIMER: The ILO does not take responsibility for content presented on this web portal that is presented in any language other than English, which is the language used for the initial production and peer-review of original content. Certain statistics have not been updated since the production of the 4th edition of the Encyclopaedia (1998)."

Friday, 11 February 2011 20:34

Labour Union-Based Activities in the United States

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

In 1995, the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, published a report indicating that 18.8 million workers, or approximately 16% of the United States workforce, are either union members or workers who report no union affiliation but are covered by a union contract (US Department of Labor 1995). Table 1 draws upon this report to characterize the unionized workforce by industry. Most of these workers are represented by labour unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which comprises 86 national and international unions (Statistical Abstract of the United States 1994). Labour unions are typically organized into international or national headquarters, regional and district offices and local unions.

Table 1. 1994 distribution of the US unionized workforce according to industry

Occupation
or industry

Total employed

Members of unions*

Represented by unions**

   

Employed

Total (%)

Employed

Total (%)

Agricultural wage
and salary workers

1,487

34

2.3

42

2.8

Private nonagricultural wage and salary workers

88,163

9,620

10.9

10,612

12

Mining

652

102

15.7

111

17.1

Construction

4,866

916

18.8

966

19.9

Manufacturing

19,267

3,514

18.2

3,787

19.7

Durable goods

11,285

2,153

19.1

2,327

20.6

Nondurable goods

7,983

1,361

17

1,460

18.3

Transportation and public utilities

6,512

1,848

28.4

1,997

30.7

Transportation

3,925

1,090

27.8

1,152

29.3

Communications and public utilities

2,587

758

29.3

846

32.7

Wholesale and retail trade

22,319

1,379

6.2

1,524

6.8

Wholesale trade

3,991

260

6.5

289

7.2

Retail trade

18,328

1,120

6.1

1,236

6.7

Finance, insurance and real estate

6,897

156

2.3

215

3.1

Services

27,649

1,704

6.2

2,012

7.3

Government workers

18,339

7,094

38.7

8,195

44.7

Data refer to members of a labour union or an employee association similar to a union.
** Data refer to members of a labour union or an employee association similar to a union, as well as to workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract.

Note: Data refer to the sole or principal job of full- or part-time workers. Excluded are self-employed workers whose businesses are incorporated although they technically qualify as wage and salary workers. Data for 1994 are not directly comparable with data for 1993 and earlier years. For additional information, see “Revisions in the current population survey effective January 1994”, in the February 1994 issue of Employment and Earnings.

 

Labour unions provide comprehensive safety and health services to workers who are members of unions. Through the development of collective bargaining agreements and by providing technical and related services, unions address the needs and concerns of their members.

On the national and international levels, union officers and staff members (safety and health professionals, attorneys, lobbyists and others) work to influence elected officials to pass safety and health laws and rules which protect workers. Union representatives also develop and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with employers containing legally binding safety and health contract language.

Labour unions ensure that workers have safe, healthful work environments through collective bargaining agreements. Ideally these agreements also provide workers with a means of addressing safety and health issues or of resolving safety and health disputes that may arise at the workplace.

Technical Assistance

At the central office, labour unions often employ or contract professional industrial hygienists, ergonomists, occupational physicians, engineers and other safety and health professionals to furnish technical assistance to workers. These professionals provide such services as conducting complaint investigations; carrying out job-site safety and health evaluations; and interpreting and translating environmental monitoring data, medical results and other technical information into language understandable by the average worker.

Safety and health complaint investigations are routinely conducted by labour union professional staff or consultants. Working in conjunction with designated employee representatives from the affected local union, these professionals address issues such as workers’ exposure to chemical or physical hazards, musculoskeletal illnesses and injuries, and non-compliance with applicable safety and health regulations.

In addition, unions may become involved in accident investigations in situations where the employer’s investigation results are disputed by the affected employees.

Labour union representatives may use the information obtained during such investigations to resolve safety and health complaints by working with the employer through the collective bargaining process. Unions may utilize the grievance procedure or specific safety and health contract language to protect workers. However, the union may elect to contact a federal or state regulatory agency if the employer is not in compliance with established laws, rules or regulations.

Union-based safety and health professionals and/or trained designated union workplace representatives—for example, local union safety and health committee members or shop stewards —conduct job-site surveys to evaluate the work environment for hazards.

During the surveys, the manufacturing processes or other operations within the job-site are evaluated. Safety and health records (for instance, OSHA 200 Logs, Department of Transportation (DOT) Accident Reports, environmental monitoring results and written programmes) are reviewed to determine compliance with collective bargaining agreements and governmental standards and regulations. The results of the surveys are documented and any problems are resolved through collective bargaining or by contacting a governmental regulatory agency.

Workers themselves often request technical or regulatory information and reports—for example, chemical fact sheets, environmental monitoring results, biological monitoring results, or federal or state safety and health regulations. Because of the technical nature of this information, the worker may require assistance in understanding the subject matter and how it applies to his or her workplace. Union-based safety and health staff can provide the workers with assistance in understanding technical information. The manner in which the assistance is provided is dependent upon the needs of the worker.

Labour unions also serve as a clearinghouse for specialized medical care or assistance for use in workers’ compensation hearings. Unions typically maintain lists of the names and addresses of reputable independent physicians to whom the worker may be referred, if necessary.

Legislative and Rulemaking Activities

Active involvement in safety and health governmental rulemaking is a very important concern of labour unions; they encourage their members to become involved in legislative and safety and health rulemaking activities on varying levels.

Unions seek to influence politicians to propose legislation to establish adequate workplace safety and health standards; to respond to proposed safety and health rulemaking submitted by governmental regulatory agencies; to influence the manner in which governmental regulatory agencies enforce workplace safety and health regulations; or to organize support for governmental regulatory agencies subject to budgetary reductions or operational changes by the US Congress.

Union lobbyists, technical professionals, research workers and legal staff members are the primary personnel involved in these activities. These staff members are responsible for collecting, analysing and organizing the data necessary to develop a union position on legislative or rulemaking activities. They also make the necessary contacts with agencies or individuals to ensure that the union’s position is presented to elected officials.

Union safety and health staff members may encounter a safety and health issue that affects workers but is not regulated by a governmental agency. In this instance, the union may develop written comments and/or oral testimony to be presented during public hearings. The intent of the comments or testimony is to educate the relevant officials and encourage them to draft legislation to resolve the issue.

Agencies that enforce safety and health regulations are, on occasion, targeted for budget reductions. Often these budget cuts are seen as being adverse to the protection of the safety and health of workers on the job. Labour unions develop and implement strategies to prevent such reductions. This may be done by working with union lobbyists to educate legislative and other officials on the adverse effects that the reductions will have on workers. In addition, there are “grassroots efforts” that include organizing and mobilizing workers to write letters to their elected officials highlighting their opposition to the proposed cuts.

In addition, unions are very involved in preparing and delivering written comments and oral testimony in response to proposed safety and health rulemaking promulgated by federal and state regulatory agencies. It is vitally important that workers have opportunities for meaningful participation in the rulemaking process. Labour unions are the means workers can use to participate fully in the rulemaking process.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

The collective bargaining agreement is the primary tool used by labour unions to implement services to the members. Labour unions use the technical expertise of industrial hygienists, ergonomists, engineers, occupational physicians and other safety and health professionals to collect and analyse safety and health information in order to prepare the union representatives who are responsible for negotiating collective bargaining agreements.

Labour unions utilize collective bargaining agreements as legal, binding documents to provide occupational safety and health protection to workers. The primary goals of the agreements are to provide protection to workers who are either not covered by federal or state workplace safety and health standards and regulations, or to provide protection to workers beyond the minimum state and federal standards.

To prepare for bargaining, unions collect information to document the safety and health issues affecting the membership. This may be accomplished by conducting membership surveys, working with technical staff and/or consultants to identify workplace hazards, reviewing information pertaining to safety and health complaints or investigations that may have been conducted, and by reviewing and evaluating workers’ compensation data, environmental monitoring surveys, or injury and illness logs.

In the final stages of preparation for bargaining, the negotiation committee prioritizes the safety and health issues and considers feasible solutions to the issues.

Worker Education and Training

Labour unions have a very important role in providing safety and health training and education to their members.

The type of training provided ranges from basic workplace safety rights (e.g., hazard communication) to extensive industry-specific training such as that provided to workers who are involved in hazardous waste remediation projects. This training is vitally important for workers who work in rapidly changing work environments.

Worker training provided by unions is usually funded through members’ dues, federal and state grants, and training funds established by employers as negotiated in collective bargaining agreements. Worker training and education courses are developed by professional staff and consultants along with extensive worker input. Often, train-the-trainer courses are provided to allow for peer training.

Research Efforts

Labour unions work with institutions such as universities and governmental agencies to conduct specific occupational safety and health research. The research efforts are typically funded by the union or the employers or through state or federal grants.

The unions use the results of the studies in the safety and health rulemaking process to negotiate contract language in order to eliminate or significantly reduce hazards in the workplace or, alternatively, to develop interventions to eliminate or significantly reduce excessive risk to the union members—for instance, to provide smoking cessation courses among asbestos-exposed workers. In addition, research results may be used to develop or modify various types of equipment used on the job.

The occupational safety and health services provided by labour unions are primarily preventive in nature and require the combined efforts of technical professionals, occupational physicians, lawyers, lobbyists and union members. By providing these services, labour unions are able effectively to ensure the safety and health of their members and of other workers in the workplace.

 

Back

Read 3443 times Last modified on Sunday, 28 August 2011 19:18

Contents

Preface
Part I. The Body
Part II. Health Care
First Aid & Emergency Medical Services
Health Protection & Promotion
Occupational Health Services
Resources
Part III. Management & Policy
Part IV. Tools and Approaches
Part V. Psychosocial and Organizational Factors
Part VI. General Hazards
Part VII. The Environment
Part VIII. Accidents and Safety Management
Part IX. Chemicals
Part X. Industries Based on Biological Resources
Part XI. Industries Based on Natural Resources
Part XII. Chemical Industries
Part XIII. Manufacturing Industries
Part XIV. Textile and Apparel Industries
Part XV. Transport Industries
Part XVI. Construction
Part XVII. Services and Trade
Part XVIII. Guides

Occupational Health Services Additional Resources

Click the Button below to view additional resources for this topic.

button

Occupational Health Services References

Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC). 1995. Membership Directory. Washington, DC: AOEC.

Basic law on labour protection. 1993. Rossijskaja Gazeta (Moscow), 1 September.

Bencko, V and G Ungváry. 1994. Risk assessment and environmental concerns of industrialization: A central European experience. In Occupational Health and National Development, edited by J Jeyaratnam and KS Chia. Singapore: World Science.

Bird, FE and GL Germain. 1990. Practical Loss Control Leadership. Georgia: Institute Publishing Division of the International Loss Control Institute.

Bunn, WB. 1985. Industrial Medical Surveillance Programmes. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

—. 1995. The scope of international occupational medical practice. Occup Med . In press.

Bureau of National Affairs (BNA). 1991. Workers’ Compensation Report. Vol. 2. Washington, DC: BNA.

—. 1994. Workers’ Compensation Report. Vol. 5. Washington, DC: BNA.
China Daily. 1994a. New sectors opened to lure foreign investment. 18 May.

—. 1994b. Foreign investors reap advantages of policy changes. 18 May.

Council of the European Communities (CEC). 1989. Council Directive On the Introduction of Measures to Encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health of Workers At Work. Brussels: CEC.

Constitution of the Russian Federation. 1993. Izvestija (Moscow), No. 215, 10 November.

Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. 1991a. The health sector: Issues and priorities. Human Resources Operations Division, Central and Eastern European Department. Europe, Middle East and North Africa Region, World Bank.

—. 1991b. Joint environmental study.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Department of Justice. 1991. Americans with Disabilities Act Handbook. EEOC-BK-19, P.1. 1, 2, October.

European Commission (EC). 1994. Europe for Safety and Health At Work. Luxembourg: EC.

Felton, JS. 1976. 200 years of occupational medicine in the US. J Occup Med 18:800.

Goelzer, B. 1993. Guidelines on control of chemical and physical hazards in small industries. Working document for the Inter-Regional Task Group on health protection and health promotion of workers in small-scale enterprises, 1-3 November, Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok: ILO.

Hasle, P, S Samathakorn, C Veeradejkriengkrai, C Chavalitnitikul, and J Takala. 1986. Survey of working conditions and environment in small-scale enterprises in Thailand, NICE project. Technical Report, No. 12. Bangkok: NICE/UNDP/ILO.

Hauss, F. 1992. Health promotion for the crafts. Dortmund: Forschung FB 656.

He, JS. 1993. Working report on national occupational health. Speech on the National Occupational Health Conference. Beijing, China: Ministry of Public Health (MOPH).

Health Standards Office.1993. Proceedings of National Diagnostic Criteria and Principles of Management of Occupational Diseases. Beijing, China: Chinese Standardization Press.

Huuskonen, M and K Rantala. 1985. Work Environment in Small Enterprises in 1981. Helsinki: Kansaneläkelaitos.

Improving working conditions and environment: An International Programme (PIACT). The evaluation of the International Programme for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (PIACT). 1984. Report to the 70th session of the International Labour Conference. Geneva: ILO.

Institute of Medicine (IOM). 1993. Environmental Medicine and the Medical School Curriculum. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Institute of Occupational Health (IOH). 1979. Translation of the Occupational Health Care Act and the Council of the State Decree No. 1009, Finland. Finland: IOH.

Institute of Occupational Medicine.1987. Methods for Monitoring and Analysis of Chemical Hazards in Air of Workplace. Beijing, China: People’s Health Press.

International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH). 1992. International Code of Ethics for Occupational Health Professionals. Geneva: ICOH.

International Labour Organization (ILO). 1959. Occupational Health Services Recommendation, 1959 (No. 112). Geneva: ILO.

—. 1964. Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 (No.121). Geneva: ILO.

—. 1981a. Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155). Geneva: ILO.

—. 1981b. Occupational Safety and Health Recommendation, 1981 (No. 164). Geneva: ILO.

—. 1984. Resolution Concerning Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1985a. Occupational Health Services Convention, 1985 (No. 161). Geneva: ILO

—. 1985b. Occupational Health Services Recommendation, 1985 (No. 171). Geneva: ILO.

—. 1986. The Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. International Labour Conference, 72nd session. Report VI. Geneva: ILO.

International Social Security Association (ISSA). 1995. Prevention Concept “Safety Worldwide”. Geneva: ILO.

Jeyaratnam, J. 1992. Occupational health services and developing nations. In Occupational Health in Developing Countries, edited by J Jeyaratnam. Oxford: OUP.

—. and KS Chia (eds.). 1994. Occupational Health and National Development. Singapore: World Science.

Joint ILO/WHO Committee on Occupational Health. 1950. Report of the First Meeting, 28 August-2 September 1950. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1992. Eleventh Session, Document No. GB.254/11/11. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1995a. Definition of Occupational Health. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1995b. Twelfth Session, Document No. GB.264/STM/11. Geneva: ILO.

Kalimo, E, A Karisto, T Klaukkla, R Lehtonen, K Nyman, and R Raitasalo. 1989. Occupational Health Services in Finland in the Mid-1980s. Helsinki: Kansaneläkelaitos.

Kogi, K, WO Phoon, and JE Thurman. 1988. Low Cost Ways of Improving Working Conditions: 100 Examples from Asia. Geneva: ILO.

Kroon, PJ and MA Overeynder. 1991. Occupational Health Services in Six Member States of the EC. Amsterdam: Studiecentrum Arbeid & Gezonheid, Univ. of Amsterdam.

Labour Code of the Russian Federation. 1993. Zakon, Suppl. to Izvestija (Moscow), June: 5-41.

McCunney, RJ. 1994. Occupational medical services. In A Practical Guide to Occupational and Environmental Medicine, edited by RJ McCunney. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

—. 1995. A Manager’s Guide to Occupational Health Services. Boston: OEM Press and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic. 1992. The National Programme of Health Restoration and Promotion in the Czech Republic. Prague: National Centre for Health Promotion.

Ministry of Public Health (MOPH). 1957. Recommendation on Establishing and Staffing Medical and Health Institutions in Industrial Enterprises. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1979. State Committee of Construction, State Planning Committee, State Economic Committee, Ministry of Labour: The Hygienic Standards for Design of Industrial Premises. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1984. Administrative Rule of Occupational Disease Diagnosis. Document No. 16. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1985. Methods of Airborne Dust Measurement in Workplace. Document No. GB5748-85. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1987. Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Finance, All-China Federation of Trade Union: Administrative Rule of Occupational Disease List and Care of the Sufferers. Document No. l60. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1991a. Administrative Rule of Health Inspection Statistics. Document No. 25. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1991b. Guideline of Occupational Health Service and Inspection. Beijing, China: MOPH.

—. 1992. Proceedings of National Survey on Pneumoconioses. Beijing, China: Beijing Medical Univ Press.

—. 1994 Annual Statistic Reports of Health Inspection in 1988-1994. Beijing, China: Department of Health Inspection, MOPH.

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. 1994. Measures to Reduce Sick Leave and Improve Labour Conditions. Den Haag, The Netherlands: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

National Centre of Occupational Health Reporting (NCOHR). 1994. Annual Reports of Occupational Health Situation in 1987-1994. Beijing, China: NCOHR.

National Health Systems. 1992. Market and Feasibility Study. Oak Brook, Ill: National Health Systems.

National Statistics Bureau. 1993. National Statistics Yearbook of the People’s Republic of China. Beijing, China: National Statistic Bureau.

Neal, AC and FB Wright. 1992. The European Communities’ Health and Safety Legislation. London: Chapman & Hall.

Newkirk, WL. 1993. Occupational Health Services. Chicago: American Hospital Publishing.

Niemi, J and V Notkola. 1991. Occupational health and safety in small enterprises: Attitudes, knowledge and behaviour of the entrepreneurs. Työ ja ihminen 5:345-360.

Niemi, J, J Heikkonen, V Notkola, and K Husman. 1991. An intervention programme to promote improvements of the work environment in small enterprises: Functional adequacy and effectiveness of the intervention model. Työ ja ihminen 5:361-379.

Paoli, P. First European Survey On the Work Environment, 1991-1992. Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

Pelclová, D, CH Weinstein, and J Vejlupková. 1994. Occupational Health in the Czech Republic: Old and New Solutions.

Pokrovsky, VI. 1993. The environment, occupational conditions and their effect on the health of the population of Russia. Presented at International Conference Human Health and the Environment in Eastern and Central Europe, April 1993, Prague.

Rantanen, J. 1989. Guidelines on organization and operation of occupation health services. Paper presented at ILO Asian subregional seminar on the Organization of Occupational Health Services, 2-5 May, Manila.

—. 1990. Occupational Health Services. European Series, No. 26. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Publications

—. 1991. Guidelines on the organization and operation of occupational health services in the light of the ILO Occupational Health Services Convention No. 161 and Recommendation No. 171. Paper presented at the African sub-regional workshop on occupational health services, 23-26 April, Mombasa.

—. 1992. How to organize plant-level collaboration for workplace actions. Afr Newslttr Occup Health Safety 2 Suppl. 2:80-87.

—. 1994. Health Protection and Health Promotion in Small-Scale Enterprises. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

—, S Lehtinen, and M Mikheev. 1994. Health Promotion and Health Protection in Small-Scale Enterprises. Geneva: WHO.

—,—, R Kalimo, H Nordman, E Vainio, and Viikari-Juntura. 1994. New epidemics in occupational health. People and Work. Research reports No. l. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Resnick, R. 1992. Managed care comes to Workers’ Compensation. Bus Health (September):34.

Reverente, BR. 1992. Occupational health services for small-scale industries. In Occupational Health in Developing Countries, edited by J Jeyaratnam. Oxford: OUP.

Rosenstock, L, W Daniell, and S Barnhart. 1992. The 10-year experience of an academically affiliated occupational and environmental medicine clinic. Western J Med 157:425-429.

—. and N Heyer. 1982. Emergence of occupational medical services outside the workplace. Am J Ind Med 3:217-223.

Statistical Abstract of the United States. 1994. 114th edition:438.

Tweed, V. 1994. Moving toward 24-hour care. Bus Health (September):55.

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). 1992. Rio De Janeiro.

Urban, P, L Hamsová, and R. Nemecek. 1993. Overview of Occupational Diseases Acknowledged in the Czech Republic in the Year 1992. Prague: National Institute of Public Health.

US Department of Labor. 1995. Employment and Earnings. 42(1):214.

World Health Organization (WHO). 1981. Global Strategy for Health for All by Year 2000.
Health for All, No. 3. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1982. Evaluation of Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene Services. Report of the Working Group. EURO Reports and Studies No. 56. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

—. 1987. Eighth General Programme of Work Covering the Period 1990-1995. Health for All, No.10. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1989a. Consultation On Occupational Health Services, Helsinki, 22-24 May 1989. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1989b. Final Report of Consultation On Occupational Health Services, Helsinki 22-24 May 1989. Publication No. ICP/OCH 134. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

—. 1989c. Report of the WHO Planning Meeting On the Development of Supporting Model Legislation for Primary Health Care in the Workplace. 7 October 1989, Helsinki, Finland. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1990. Occupational Health Services. Country reports. EUR/HFA target 25. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

—. 1992. Our Planet: Our Health. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1993. WHO Global Strategy for Health and Environment. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1995a. Concern for Europe’s tomorrow. Chap. 15 in Occupational Health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe.

—. 1995b. Global Strategy On Occupational Health for All. The Way to Health At Work: Recommendation of the Second Meeting of the WHO Collaborating Centres in Occupational Health, 11-14 October 1994 Beijing, China. Geneva: WHO.

—. 1995c. Reviewing the Health-For-All Strategy. Geneva: WHO.

World Summit for Social Development. 1995. Declaration and Programme of Action. Copenhagen: World Summit for Social Development.

Zaldman, B. 1990. Industrial strength medicine. J Worker Comp :21.
Zhu, G. 1990. Historical Experiences of Preventive Medical Practice in New China. Beijing, China: People’s Health Press.