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Transcript of Lessons Learned:
Address immediate needs of immigrant workers (jobs, wage theft, immigration issues)
Integrate H&S training with other needs: e.g., ESL classes with OSH component
Recognize that education and training alone will not solve the problem: Provide support and assistance to workers in organizing.
Reach out to workers where they are (don’t expect them to come to you)
Tie together multiple issues of concern to immigrant workers in a single project (e.g., IDEPSCA’s “Magic Cleaners” project: environmental concerns, small business development, and worker H&S)
Gain trust of the community by working through trusted members (e.g., promotora projects, peer educators.)
Are honest and frank with community members about the limitations of OSHA protections—don’t promise more than your organization and OSHA can deliver (but promise enough to avoid discouraging people!)
Develop close ties to local/area OSHA offices to develop reputation as a reliable intermediary between OSHA and immigrant communities.
Can enable community-based organizations to file OSHA complaints on behalf of workers, as in CLEAN campaign.
Develop relationships with university researchers based on mutual respect; work together on community-based research projects that build credibility and support for the cause with reliable data.
Collaborations between workers and health and technical experts through COSH groups: experts document hazards and research regulations to support campaign.
Build relationships with local media people to establish reputation as reliable source; help them reach into the community and tell a story.
Build coalitions with labor groups, environmentalists, faith-based org’s, and public health professionals.
MASSCOSH Floor Finishing safety campaign: tying together immigrant worker S&H, environmental concerns, and public safety.
Mostly Vietnamese small contractors do floor finishing in MA.
Use dangerously flammable chemicals. “Responding to tragic and preventable
house fires that caused three deaths and destroyed dozens of homes in Massachusetts, the state’s Board of Fire Prevention Regulations passed new regulations that will restrict the use of highly flammable wood floor finishing products.”
Pressuring local city councils to take action to protect worker H&S (e.g., Workers Defense Project in Austin.)
Urging local and state representatives to use their office as “bully pulpit” to demand stronger protections for workers, even if no jurisdiction. (E.g., CLEAN Carwash Campaign.)
“Environmental Justice in the Workplace”: immigrant workers disproportionately suffer impacts of OSH hazards.
The right to safe and healthy working conditions as a Human Rights issue.
Demonstrate that unsafe conditions are not just an “immigrant workers” issue but affect all working people.
Urge a shift in view of workplace death and injury from “unavoidable accidents” to that of a preventable public health problem (as seen in shifting perceptions of drunk driving.)