Metal Trades President Hart Urges Bipartisan Support for Infrastructure Legislation

Metal Trades President Hart Urges Bipartisan Support for Infrastructure Legislation

As President of the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, I speak for a wide array of labor organizations that represents workers employed in the manufacturing, production, service and maintenance segments of the general aviation, shipbuilding and energy segments of the workforce.

America’s Metal Trades Unions look forward to working with Congress on developing a bipartisan infrastructure package. At the same time, we strongly urge you to oppose attempts to include divisive proposals in any comprehensive infrastructure bill or legislation whose mission is to privatize our nation’s vital government institutions such as airports, seaports, roads, bridges, energy, water and sewer substructures.

Bipartisan support for legislation investing in our nation’s infrastructure will be critical to getting a bill to the President’s desk. While Congress will face many challenges as it considers a comprehensive infrastructure bill, divisive privatization proposals full of risk and unintended consequences should not be one of them. Handing over our nation’s infrastructure to special interests is surely not in the best interest of America or its working families.

As Congress works to bring our nation’s infrastructure into the 21st century, we look forward to working with you to find common sense, bipartisan solutions that benefit all Americans.

MTD Pens Letter Opposing HR3808, the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017

MTD Pens Letter Opposing HR3808, the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017

Dear Representative,

Re: Metal Trades Department Strongly Opposes H.R. 3808, the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017.

The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, is writing in opposition to H.R. 3808, the Infrastructure Expansion Act of 2017, which would prohibit states from establishing strict liability standards for certain construction accidents. This bill would be an unprecedented intrusion into state liability law. Its scope is vast, covering any such “project for which Federal financial assistance is used, directly or indirectly.” These terms are undefined and vague, but a common sense reading suggests they are meant to cover far more worksites than just those receiving federal grants.

Construction is one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation.  Currently, states like New York insist on strict liability for contractors and owners when it comes to sites covered by this bill, that is, those “with an elevation or gravity related risk occurring on that project.” This is because New York has determined that those controlling safety at a construction site should be exclusively responsible for ensuring safety and limiting hazards.  New York has done this to protect not only workers from unsafe scaffolding, ladders, flooring, elevators and other hazards, but also pedestrians walking on sidewalks and streets where there is active construction.

But even in New York, an accident alone does not establish liability. A defendant cannot be held liable unless they have violated a required safety standard. They cannot be held liable if an accident was solely caused by the worker’s negligence (i.e., being intoxicated at work, etc.).  In other words, New York has carefully developed its law over decades, balancing interests to both encourage safety and provide proper remedies for those who have been hurt.

H.R. 3808 directly tramples on a state’s right to decide what’s best for its workers and residents regarding the responsibility of local contractors and building owners to ensure safe construction sites.  It would overturn traditional state common law and interfere with a state’s right to establish tort remedies, one of the most basic and traditional of state functions.  Please oppose this harmful legislation.

Sincerely,

James Hart
President
Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO

 

Statement from Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Ron Ault on the allegations that Austal, USA violated the False Claims Act

WASHINGTON, DC–As the labor representative for workers at the major shipyards building Naval vessels in the U.S., I am deeply disturbed by the allegations that Austal, USA violated the False Claims Act.

For years, the Metal Trades Department has suspected that the company is abusing the Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) center by garnering state and local tax incentives while failing to properly train prospective employees. The legal allegations brought forth in the June 2014 lawsuit filed by the Gardner Firm PC, only further justifies our concerns.

As reported by Law360’s Jacob Fischler in Ex-Workers Say Navy Shipbuilder Faked Employee Records, the “employees were sometimes misrepresented as supervisors to skirt government provisions about how many supervisors were required per shift, as well as to boost their reimbursement potential.” We believe that this type of misrepresentation is rampant at Austal, USA.

Employees at Austal have had their voices ignored repeatedly.  Our representatives have expressed concern to the Navy that these practices might be happening. We were not kept abreast of what, if any, action was taken by Navy personnel. This company has violated U.S. laws, fired employees who complain. As outlined in the lawsuit, three of the five relators—those named in the suit—were fired after reporting the alleged fraud to supervisors. The environment of intimidation and fear has caused most to keep their head down for fear of losing their jobs.

These new accusations, as well as the repeated OSHA citations issued to Austal, USA shows the callous disregard this company has for both U.S. regulations and its workforce. The U.S. Navy and the hard-working men and women in our shipyards deserve better.

Statement from Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Ault on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

Statement from Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO President Ault on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

I am honored to be at the White House to witness the signing of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.  The Metal Trades Department and its affiliated unions have been advocating for and supporting this action for many years.

Our organizations have witnessed first hand the abuses of unscrupulous federal contractors wage theft of their workers and the unlawful retaliation when workers try to exercise their rights. The terms of the Contractor’s federal contracts require them to obey and abide by the laws. Although the vast majority of contractors play by the rules, every year tens of thousands of American workers are not treated fairly. Many are denied overtime wages, not hired or paid fairly because of their gender or age, or have their health and safety put at risk by corporations contracting with the federal government that cut corners.  Today, President Obama is cracking down on federal contractors who put workers’ safety and hard-earned pay at risk.

This Executive Order means that there will be consequences that will actually deter this unlawful action.

We thank President Obama for issuing this Executive Order.

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The Metal Trades Department is a trade department of the AFL-CIO. It was chartered in 1908 to coordinate negotiating, organizing and legislative efforts of affiliated metalworking and related crafts and trade unions. Seventeen national and international unions are affiliated with the MTD today. More than 100,000 workers in private industry and federal establishments work under contracts negotiated by MTD Councils. Workers retain membership in their own trade unions.

The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO strongly condemns the passage of H.R. 1120

The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO strongly condemns the passage of H.R. 1120, in the House of Representatives.

This legislation is another example of the all-out assault by many Republicans on the National Labor Relations Board and on basic workers protections. While 10 Republicans stood up for workers’ rights and voted “no” on H.R. 1120, the vast majority of Republican members voted for the bill’s passage.

The bill would “prohibit the National Labor Relations Board from taking any action that requires a quorum of the members of the Board until such time as Board constituting a quorum shall have been confirmed by the Senate.” Meanwhile the Republicans have frustrated the appointment of qualified leadership to the NLRB through parliamentary tactics.

“The passage of this bill is just another example of the cynical Republican policies designed to frustrate the rights of workers on the job and the utter disdain for the vital work that the NLRB performs,” said Ron Ault, president of the Metal Trades Department.

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