Taking One for the Team

I guess interesting would be a nice way to describe 2009. Members of our local union paid a hefty price to keep CAT stockholders satisfiedóthat is our most important duty you know. All across the CAT chain, workers are ďtaking one for the teamĒ to ensure that the wealthy get to stay that way. Iím sure the welfare of the families of our laid-off brothers and sisters and retirees are first and foremost in the minds of the individual and institutional shareholders as they celebrate their hard-earned dividends.

Meanwhile, out on the brightly painted shop floor, there is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Weíve been CPSíd, RIWíd, VSTíd and CIíd almost to death, but it seems to me that the more things change at CAT, the more they stay the same.

If someone gets hurt with a hammer or pry bar, management gets rid of all the hammers and pry bars. Bump your head on a low-hanging impact wrench or while climbing out from under a tractor, guess what? Everybody gets a bump cap. If youíve got the audacity to slip or trip and in the process put your hand through an inadequate fan guard and lose the end of your finger, management will cut the cords on all the fans. Too bad if you get hot, nobody will get their finger cut off in a fan again! If your boss doesnít share your appreciation of music (or canít tell you to turn your music down), your boss will make ALL the workers take their radios home. Never mind that management continues to bob their heads while wearing their headphones during ďteleconferencesĒ.

Speaking of overreaction, you have all heard that it is a condition of employment to report all injuries immediately, right? What happens if you donít? Iíve heard reports of anything from a written warning to being suspended for failing to report an injury. What happens if you do report your injury? Iíve heard tell of responses that range from almost nothing to being suspended. Whatís up with that?

What message is really being sent? Do you think CAT really wants you to report your injuries, or do they just want you to stuff your bloody appendage in your pocket so it doesnít affect their numbers? I really donít think this is the case, but itís hard to tell given the punishment handed out.

Did you know it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker for reporting an injury? Itís also illegal to discriminate against someone for raising health and safety concerns to management, for filing a union safety complaint, or to complain to OSHA. If you have questions, ask your UAW Safety Representative, Grievance Committeeman, or look up 29CFR 1904.36 on the web. You can even anonymously call OSHA at 309-578-7033 and ask them; just ask for the duty officer.

It would be helpful if active workers would fill out the Injury and Illness Survey below and give it to your steward or committeeman before or after work. Iím asking them to bring the completed forms to the union hall so we can determine how big the problem of underreporting of injuries is and why. Iíd appreciate if you would sign them and give a number where you can be reached, but I also understand if you donít. Either way, please take a minute and complete the survey.

Best wishes to all of you in 2010, and have a safe and healthy holiday season.

Steve Mitchell


Injury and Illness Survey

Name: _______________________________________________________________

Phone: _______________________________________________________________

1. Did you experience an injury or illness during 2009 that was caused or aggravated by an event or exposure in your work environment?
[†† ] Yes (go to Question 2)†††† [†† ] No (go to Question 7)

2. Briefly describe this injury and/or illness.

3. Did you report the injury or illness to your employer? [†† ] Yes†††† [†† ] No

4. If yes, was the case recorded on the OSHA Log? [†† ] Yes†††† [†† ] No†††† [†† ] I Don't Know

5. If you didnít report the injury, why not?

6. Did your injury and/or illness involve any days away from work or days of restricted work activity?

[] Yes†††† [] No

If yes, explain.

If yes, how many workdays?

7.Are you aware of any of your coworkers that experienced a job-related injury or illness during 2009?

[ ] Yes†††† [ ††] No

If yes, who?

Did they report their injury? [†† ] Yes†††† [††† ] No

If no, why not?


Thanks for taking the time to complete this important survey!