MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Location: file:///C:/4955118E/FreeIsNotNecessarilyABargain.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" Free Is Not Necessarily A Bargain

Free Is Not Necessarily A Bargain


It was reported to me recently that somewhere in the beautiful East Peoria plant, gas cards worth $25 were “awar= ded” to workers who didn’t have a trip to First-Aid for a specific period = of time. Similarly it was reported earlier this year, Carbon Monoxide monitors were sent to the homes of workers who did not have a work-related injury fo= r a year. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and that also applies to these “gifts”.


Why would Caterpilla= r (who shoved a substandard new-hire wage scale down our throats and is forcing us= and the retirees to pay for our benefits) now be interested in giving away thousands of dollars-worth of goodies? What is in it for them? The sad trut= h is this is not an incentive to work more safely; it is an incentive for= you not to report injuries. If management really wanted you to have a sa= fe workplace, they would reward you for turning in hazards so they could corre= ct them, not reward you for staying away from First-Aid.


How many people do y= ou know right now who have not reported a workplace injury? Why? Do they fear discipline, blame storming investigations, Nuevo Laredo-type meetings, job reassignment or the loss of their vehicle operator’s license? Discipl= ine you ask? Yes it’s true. Management claims that they have to discipline workers because of OSHA requirements. That’s only part of the story. =


The real reason they discipline is that in almost every instance when they are fined by OSHA, Caterpillar claims “employee misconduct” as the cause. Caterpil= lar claims an “affirmative defense” when they claim to have work or safety procedures, proof of training on those procedures and a record of disciplining people for failure to follow the procedures. That’s why = CAT keeps records. Every time you take some sort of training, you are required = to sign a sheet or put in your password. Every procedure is available in the e= vent CAT needs it to defend itself against your wanton misconduct. They are happ= y to avoid their legal responsibility to provide you a safe workplace by blaming you.


Please understand th= at we do have to follow Safe Job procedures, LOTO or ZMS procedures, Permit-Required Confined Space procedures and Fall Protection procedures for our own protec= tion, but never forget that Caterpillar is responsible for our safety every minute we’re at work. We have to make sure we report hazards to our supervis= ors. If your problem is not addressed in what you feel is a timely manner, ask to see your UAW Safety Representative and file a complaint. (FYI, there is no “repetitive” language in 8.3, the Safety Complaint Procedure). = The contractual Safety Complaint Procedure is the best way to document hazards = and get them corrected.


Safety Complaints ar= e also one way we can, if necessary, prove to OSHA that Caterpillar was made aware= of workplace hazards and did nothing—I like to refer to it as employer misconduct. Your UAW Safety Representative can help get your problems resol= ved and resolved quickly. Your UAW Safety Representatives were appointed by the= union to help and represent you; the people selected by the company were not sele= cted for those reasons. One Safety Representative on third shift in Mossville was able to correct a longstanding problem after being called to represent a worker. That person had been complaining to their supervisor for months, but when they finally called for their UAW Safety Rep and filed a written compl= aint, the problem was addressed. The worker said, “If I had known that was = all it would take, I’d have done it a long time ago”.


We can learn from Caterpillar. Everything we do at work is documented and we need to do the s= ame. Report all injuries—do not allow yourself to be bought for mere trink= ets or a tank of gas! When you have a problem on the job or there is something = you feel will injure you or make you sick, report it to your supervisor, that’s what they’re there for. If the supervisor fails to address your probl= em, call for your UAW Safety Representative, that’s what they’re= there for.


In Solidarity,<= /o:p>

Steve Mitchell