Union Education and Organizing
The Union Organizing and Education Initiative strengthens the capacity of unions to mobilize and organize for safe and healthy working conditions. MassCOSH assists unions by:
- Offering training, technical assistance and support for union efforts to organize for safe and healthy work conditions.
- Advocating for changes at the policy level by building community-labor coalitions.
- Building a network of labor health and safety activists who mobilize across unions for safe, healthy conditions and strong government regulations.
Training and Technical Assistance for Unions and Union Members
MassCOSH offers training and assists unions in addressing a variety of health and safety issues including: worker health and safety rights, toxic chemicals, indoor air problems, repetitive strain injuries and other ergonomic problems, workers' compensation and blood-borne pathogens. Unions that become members of MassCOSH receive a free, two hour training. MassCOSH can also link unions with a network of health and safety professionals that can respond to questions, review inspection reports, and analyze chemicals and other exposures. View the The New England Consortium's emergency responder and hazardous waste worker trainings.
Support for health and safety organizing
MassCOSH works with unions and union members to organize to improve working conditions – from addressing excessive workload to chemical exposure. MassCOSH can provide a range of support, including:
- Document hazards and health problems, using a range of tools such as hazard mapping and surveys (click);
- Research chemicals and the availability of safer alternatives;
- Explore whether hazards violate any state or federal laws
- Produce a health and safety assessment report (click for example)
- Develop and support action steps that contribute to workplace safety and health improvements
Union Health and Safety Committees
Health and safety committees can be an effective vehicle for being proactive about work conditions. Setting up a worker health and safety committee is important not only for addressing health and safety problems in union shops but also as an effective organizing tool. MassCOSH provides training and technical support for unions on organizing and strengthening effective committees. Working with the State Action for Safety Coalition, MassCOSH has provided fact sheets and training for state employee unions on using health and safety committees to implement the State Executive Order (EO511, issued in 2009) (Click for copy of fact sheet on EO511)
The State Action for Safety Coalition, spearheaded by MassCOSH and comprising unions and health and safety activists, advocates for legislation that strengthens worker health and safety protections. The Coalition is currently focusing on an effort to expand health and safety protections to public employees, who are not covered under OSHA, through executive order and legislation. Read more about these efforts: Public employee health and safety protections
Workers Memorial Day
Each year, working in partnership with the Mass. AFL-CIO and area Central Labor Councils, MassCOSH organizes events at the end of April to commemorate Workers Memorial Day, honoring workers killed, injured and made ill on the job. A central event is held in Boston and other events are held in conjunction with central and eastern Massachusetts Central Labor Councils. Families of workers killed on the job are invited to a breakfast, held on the morning of the Boston event. The events coincide with the release of an annual state workplace fatality report, Dying for Work: The Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts, co-authored by MassCOSH and the Mass. AFL-CIO.