You Are The Solution


This will be the last copy of the Local 974 News you will have delivered to you before the Triennial Elections. The people elected, by you the membership, will lead us through bargaining in the next round of negotiations and they will need all of our support. During the Health and Safety subcommittee meetings in the 2010-2011 negotiations, management replied to many of our proposals for improvement by saying, we have had no grievances or complaints on whatever specific issue we were discussing. In fact, Caterpillar thought the language at the time was so good, the main thing they wanted in their proposal was LOA 32. That should speak volumes to you.

So, here’s a question for you. If you were asked whether you would let a son, daughter, grandchild or other loved one perform the jobs we currently do, in the same manner, with the same equipment, following the same processes, what would you say? In the vast majority of instances, I’ll bet your job, or some aspect of it, would expose them to a hazard. Do you agree? Why then is it good enough for you?

The question I have is not about the specific hazard, but rather, why if you know it is there, don’t you ask your Supervisor to have it corrected? You are required to do so under the provisions of 8.3 of the Health and Safety Language, “An employee who believes that a condition has developed which presents a significant threat to his health or safety shall promptly notify his Supervisor of such condition”.

The union’s best instrument for improving your health and safety is you! You know when parts are out of tolerance, something is being done out of process, some safety device, or guarding is not functioning properly, so tell your supervisor. If you have to work around or walk over trip hazards, tell your boss, and if he/she doesn’t address it to your satisfaction, file a complaint. Any time your feet leave the floor, especially if you’re four feet or more above the floor, and you can’t maintain three points of contact, you are at risk of fall. If your coolant is bad or if you have to breathe air that you can see, your boss needs to know. If you’re required to lift something that is over your facility maximum or any lift that causes pain, report it.

In addition, do you know that you are responsible for every word of every Safe Job Procedure, Standard Work, General Safety Rule, CPS or CLMS class you are required to take or have taken? Do you really take time to not only read, but to comprehend, the information in those documents and classes? Have you ever asked for a copy of any of these documents for your records? In the event something happens, you’ll be sure to see any and all of these documents, plus some that you’ve forgotten about, used as evidence of your “wrongdoing” in a disciplinary action, no matter that compliance with these rules is almost never audited. 

Your UAW Health and Safety representatives are not able to get to each and every corner of their respective facilities on a regular basis. In some major buildings (SS), you only get part-time health and safety representation. How does this inadequate representation help Caterpillar towards their Vision Zero? As dedicated as your UAW Safety reps are, you are the eyes and ears on the shop floor. You are the expert on your job. Give your boss a chance to address your health and safety issues, but don’t settle for anything but being satisfied with the resolution. Always remember why you go to work each day and those who depend on you, because there are no awards for working in unsafe areas or among hazards we know about.