It’s only been a couple of months since millions of people celebrated Labor Day, the day most associated with the labor movement and the fight for better, safer conditions for all workers. The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) continue this fight every day on behalf of the hardworking members who came before us and the half-million men and women who make up this union today.
In the wake of commemorating working people across the U.S. and Canada, there is good news to share about the future of the labor movement. A recent Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans now approve of labor unions – that’s five percent higher than a year ago and the highest mark since 2003. While this number still has plenty of room to grow, it’s encouraging to see more people across the U.S. realizing that everyone stands to benefit from a stronger labor movement. It’s certainly no secret within LIUNA’s TriFunds, as joint partnerships between union labor and LIUNA’s signatory contractors continue to put skilled Laborers to work on safer worksites across North America.
In spite of this positive news, the last several months have also been extremely challenging at times. Devastating hurricanes and wildfires swept across large parts of the mainland U.S., Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands costing many people their homes, livelihoods and sometimes even their lives. Shortly afterwards, an outdoor concert in Las Vegas became the scene of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. These events and others like them can be particularly hard to handle, especially when they put the health and safety of our loved ones at risk. However, they also serve to remind us of the good in the world. Following these events, LIUNA members and countless others pitched in to donate blood, donate their time and donate money and essential supplies to help others get back on their feet. The physical and emotional damage caused by these events will take time and effort to overcome, but LIUNA and its members have never shied away from hard work that is worth doing. The LHSFNA stands ready to assist LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, health and welfare funds and signatory contractors that need guidance on how to keep workers safe during cleanup efforts or how to handle the emotional trauma caused by these or other similar tragedies. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the members, families and friends who were affected by these events.
On the regulatory front, the construction industry is finally seeing the implementation of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard. After several delays, the rule is now in full effect and being enforced, which is welcome news for construction laborers who are frequently exposed to harmful silica dust. The Fund has been hard at work over the last several months answering questions about the standard and assisting LIUNA signatory contractors with selecting controls that can boost productivity on the job while protecting LIUNA members and ensuring compliance. If your LIUNA District Council, Local Union, Training Fund or company needs guidance or compliance assistance related to the silica rule, we encourage you to reach out to the LHSFNA’s Occupational Safety & Health Division.
We also want to take this time to remind you and your family about getting a flu shot this season. Health officials often look to Australia, where flu arrives earlier, to gauge what’s likely for the U.S. and Canada. There have already been more than double the number of flu cases reported there compared to the same time last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with the flu every year. Remember that getting a flu shot also helps protect people you come in contact with who can’t get the shot. When you take care of yourself, you also take care of the other people in your life. In closing, we want to wish everyone a safe, stress-free holiday season and a happy and healthy 2018.