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Sept. 28, 2015 by Katie Tracy

A Day's Work: Safety Training for Temp Workers Would Prevent Many Injuries and Deaths

Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis, 21, died tragically on his first day of work at his first job, as a “temp worker” at a Bacardi bottling facility in Jacksonville, Florida. He began his shift within 15 minutes of arriving at the facility, after completing some paperwork and watching a very brief safety video. Although working in a bottling facility is a dangerous job, Davis and his coworkers received no real training about the potential hazards or proper safety procedures. Within hours, Davis was asked to help clean up some broken bottles caused by a machine malfunction. While he was under the machine picking up the glass, the equipment was turned back on, and he was crushed to death.

Davis’ story is a poignant example of an eager and hard-working individual killed on-the-job because no one cared to train him, despite legal requirements to do so, before placing him in harm’s way. This troubling reality is illustrated in a new, eye-opening documentary, A Day’s Work, which shares Davis’ story and the shocking practices of the temp industry that have caused his and so many others’ untimely deaths.

Millions of hard-working men and women across the United States are “temporary employees …

Sept. 22, 2015 by Robert Verchick
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Center for Progressive Reform President Robert R.M. Verchick issued the following statement today in response to the burgeoning Volkswagen emissions scandal:

With the Volkswagen emissions scandal, hard on the heels of the GM settlement, can anyone doubt the importance of strong regulation and tough enforcement? One automotive giant let a safety problem fester for a decade while more than 120 people died as a result. Another conspired to cheat on state emissions tests, pumping outrageous loads of pollution into the air we breathe so that they could make their cars peppier, and advertise them as such. We hear conservatives say all the time that regulation is unnecessary because the market is self-correcting. The scope of these scandals proves just the opposite: We need vigorous regulation and enforcement to keep Americans safe from companies that think they can increase their profits by endangering us all.

Sept. 22, 2015 by Robert Verchick
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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush released a plan meant to make it harder for federal agencies to make rules that protect public health and the environment. That might help some big corporations. But it makes everyday Americans much less safe.

The idea is to jam up the federal rule making process with so many requirements that hardly anything important would get done. Safeguards that keep the air clear, the water clean, and the workplace safe would be put on the back burner. Bush’s plan would empower congressional members who do not believe in climate change to stall rules crafted by scientific experts in response to statutes that Congress has already passed, like the Clean Water and Air Acts. New rules meant to prevent another Wall Street meltdown would also be at risk. 

On top of that Bush would provide the White House (through OMB’s Office …

Sept. 21, 2015 by Erin Kesler
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Today, Stewart Parnell, former peanut company executive was sentenced to 28 years in prison for his role in a salmonella outbreak that resulted in the deaths of nine people and the illness of 174.

CPR Member Scholar and University of Maryland School of Law professor Rena Steinzor issued the following statement in response to the sentencing:

This sentence shows that the courts are willing to drop the boom on white collar criminal defendants whose elevation of profits over safety go so far as to kill people.  Parnell ordered the shipment of peanut paste contaminated by salmonella that not only killed nine people, but also produced one of the biggest recalls in food safety history.  His factory was a disgusting place, with broken equipment, a leaking roof, and rodent droppings throughout.  Hopefully, this kind of prosecution will motivate the Congress to fully fund FDA efforts to prevent such …

Sept. 17, 2015 by Rena Steinzor
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CPR Member Scholar Rena Steinzor reacted to today's announcement of a settlement between General Motors and the Justice Department over charges stemming from the company's failure to disclose a deadly ignition defect it millions of its cars. Steinzor said:

This settlement is shamefully weak. GM and its executives knew for years that they had a big problem with the ignition switch, which caused cars to stall at high speeds, depriving drivers of power steering, brakes, and airbags.  The company’s dysfunctional culture convened committees to palaver about it, while nothing was done, a culture described by Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, as “the GM nod.”  But daunted by the company’s size and prestige, U.S. attorney Preet Bharara blinked, collecting $900 million as a cost of doing business, but excusing GM from admitting its criminal wrongdoing.  This kind of sweetheart deal shows that justice …

Sept. 16, 2015 by Erin Kesler
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Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee is holding a Hearing on legislation focused on the regulatory system entitled, "A Review of Regulatory Reform Proposals."

CPR Vice-President and Wake Forest University School of Law professor Sidney Shapiro will be testifying.

According to his testimony:

It is a good thing that Congress has directed agencies to issue regulations to achieve important social goals because these regulations have produced enormous benefits for the American people.1 Consider the following:

  • The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that regulatory benefits exceed regulatory costs by about 8 to 1 for significant regulations.2 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the regulatory benefits of the Clean Air Act exceed costs by a 25-to-1 ratio.3  

  • The failure to regulate some hazards related to the workplace, the environment, product safety, food safety, and more, and the failure …

Sept. 14, 2015 by Thomas McGarity
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At long last, the Food and Drug Administration has promulgated two critical regulations implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA).  The regulations flesh out the statute’s requirements for facilities that process human food and animal feed.  Of the regulations that FDA has proposed in order to implement the FSMA, these are perhaps the least controversial.  Indeed, they have won praise from everyone from the Grocery Manufacturers Association to the food safety director of the Pew Charitable Trusts.  This blog post focuses exclusively on the regulations governing human food. 

The regulations require all processors of human food to prepare and maintain plans for ensuring that their products are not contaminated with pathogens.  A processing facility must conduct a hazard analysis and institute preventive controls to mitigate the hazards identified in the analysis.  The company must monitor those controls, conduct verification activities to ensure that the …

Sept. 10, 2015 by Katie Tracy
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Marking a victory for workers, on August 27, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a highly anticipated decision in the case of Browning-Ferris Industries, updating its overly restrictive standard for determining “joint employer” status for purposes of collective bargaining. The decision responds to the increasing reliance on contingent work arrangements that often involve multiple employers, and reflects the Board’s recognition that its application of labor law must be adjusted to address the realities of today’s economy.

Much of the news coverage of the decision has focused on what it could mean for fast-food establishments, like McDonald’s, whose joint employer status — as a big corporate franchisor exercising control over employees of its local franchisees — is currently pending review before the NLRB. Yet it’s also worth exploring what the new joint employer standard means, if anything, for college football players seeking to collectively bargain …

Sept. 8, 2015 by Daniel Farber
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The answer will surprise you.

What parts of the country benefit most from the series of new EPA rules addressing pollution from coal-fired power plants?  The answer is not what you think.

EPA does a thorough cost-benefit analysis of its regulations but the costs and benefits are aggregated at the national level. In a new paper, David Spence and David Adelman from the University of Texas break down these figures on a regional basis.  What they found may surprise you.  In fact, the areas benefitting the most are the very ones that rely most on coal.  The reason is simple.  Much of the benefit from reducing the use of coal comes in the form of health improvements — fewer heart attacks and deaths from respiratory disease, fewer asthma attacks.  These health improvements are mostly in the vicinity of the power plants.  So the same places that will have …

Sept. 3, 2015 by
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The Bay Journal published another interesting story this week by Rona Kobell about the perseverance it took by some residents and officials of rural Caroline County, Maryland, to finally address the failing septic systems plaguing their community.  The story even highlights how some local officials, after decades of trying to find a resolution, died waiting for it.  In addition to the residents of Goldsboro, Greensboro, and other towns near the headwaters of the Choptank River, another long-suffering character in the story is Lake Bonnie.  The article shares the fond memories of one older resident who used to swim in the lake as a child, which was closed decades ago due in large part to the problems caused by nearby septic systems. 

But there is another side to this story, not yet told, about one of the heroes in the tale.  The many failing septic systems despoiling the …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Sept. 28, 2015

A Day's Work: Safety Training for Temp Workers Would Prevent Many Injuries and Deaths

Sept. 22, 2015

VW Scandal: Can Anyone Still Doubt the Need for Regulation?

Sept. 22, 2015

Dear Jeb: Crippling Federal Agencies Will Not Keep America Safe!

Sept. 21, 2015

CPR's Steinzor Reacts to Parnell Sentencing

Sept. 17, 2015

Steinzor Reacts to GM Settlement Deal

Sept. 16, 2015

CPR's Shapiro Testifies on Regulatory Bills for Senate Hearing

Sept. 14, 2015

FDA's New Regulations for Food Processors: The Devil is in the Implementation