Workplace Conditions (unsafe work?).

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Ethos's picture
Ethos
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Jul 28 2012 03:10
Workplace Conditions (unsafe work?).

I've recently come across a workplace issue that I'd like to run by you guys (this issue is U.S. centric, but please feel free to chime in regardless). The store where I work (stocking shelves) is fucking blazing hot. The temperature get's so high that my shirt is soaked when I make it home and I'm constantly feeling weak and dizzy while I'm in there and everyone that comes in makes a remark about how hot it is. There's no point in organizing, given that there are only 3 'employees' without hiring power (one of them a Ron Paul fan and the other sucks up to management), but, according to Labor Law for the Rank and Filer, I should be protected by Section 502 of the National Labor Relations Act for quitting labor because of "abnormally dangerous conditions". Also, according to the same book, the act was upheld in a case in which workers walked off the job because the workplace was "too cold to work in" (NLRB v. Washington Aluminum Co.). My question is, should I file a formal grievance before taking any sort action?

EDIT:
When I wrote "3 'employees' " I was counting myself.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
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Jul 28 2012 13:16

I work in the UK in a different type of workplace to you, but we had this same problem. In summer the office got unbearably hot. In the end some colleagues and I monitored temperature in the office every day for three years and produced a chart showing how often it was above our employer's ideal working temperature. And we kept hassling them - whenever the temperature went above the ideal maximum, we asked management to do something or let people work elsewhere. Until eventually they installed air conditioning.

Now, in the UK we have a legal minimum working temperature (16°C) but not a legal maximum. But our employer did have a maximum in their procedures. So I would recommend having a look at your company procedures and the law.

However, I wouldn't jump straight in with a formal grievance, first I would raise it informally with your colleagues and your manager and see what kind of response you get. You could ask about it in a roundabout, casual way, like ask if there was a fan or something anywhere. Then depending on what response you get, take it from there…

syndicalist
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Jul 28 2012 13:38

"There's no point in organizing", indeed there is. The politics of the otherv 2 workers aside, they must be feeling the same conditioins as you, yes?

Has management even been appraoched on the heat condition? Perhaps the 3 of you can approch them and ask for some form of huge fans to be placed in key places to circulate the air.
Perhaps a water color to prevent dehidration. "Small" stuff that might actually be doable and
has minor costs to the boss.... I say this last thing cause the boss will always yap about costs of major (and even minor) stuff.

Perhaps this might be an initial step in addressing the immediate issue. The main thing is to get immediate resolution, not one which occurs in the Winter Sometimes bosses figure that if they hear no compl;aints, they don't have to do squat. So maybe, maybe if the issue is raised in as a collective manner as possible, resolution might happen quickly.

Good luck!

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Ethos
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Jul 28 2012 15:06
Steven. wrote:
So I would recommend having a look at your company procedures and the law.

However, I wouldn't jump straight in with a formal grievance, first I would raise it informally with your colleagues and your manager and see what kind of response you get. You could ask about it in a roundabout, casual way, like ask if there was a fan or something anywhere. Then depending on what response you get, take it from there…

Thanks for the reply, Steven. I've raised the issue with one of the other 2 workers and the main manager (as well as one of his 3 acolytes) and the responses were, "Yeah, that's the way things work here" and, "We should get a.c. sometime in the future", respectively (not counting the, "We apologize for the heat; we can't do anything about it" message that continuously flashes on the cashier screens). The only fans in the store are 2 and they are in 1 corner of the store; they don't do a thing since they're made to be used in the rooms of a house.
I will have to look at company procedures, though, that's one thing I haven't done. As for labor laws, aside from the NLRA they are virtually non-existent in the U.S. other than in a couple of the major states (N.Y., California, etc).

syndicalist wrote:
There's no point in organizing", indeed there is. The politics of the otherv 2 workers aside, they must be feeling the same conditioins as you, yes?

Thanks for replying, syndicalist. Yes, obviously they do, what I meant was that given their behavior around the workplace, one of them constantly sucking up and the other willing to put up with these conditions (the R.P. fan told me that this job, "was only temporary" for him), trying to organize carries more chances of getting outed and fired (Not for unionizing, since that is illegal, but, as always, there is a clause in the contract stating that they can fire you without stating a reason) than usual.

Quote:
Has management even been appraoched on the heat condition? Perhaps the 3 of you can approch them and ask for some form of huge fans to be placed in key places to circulate the air.
Perhaps a water color to prevent dehidration. "Small" stuff that might actually be doable and
has minor costs to the boss.... I say this last thing cause the boss will always yap about costs of major (and even minor) stuff.

They have been approached and their response has always been that an a.c. system will be installed sometime in the future. .

Quote:
Perhaps this might be an initial step in addressing the immediate issue. The main thing is to get immediate resolution, not one which occurs in the Winter Sometimes bosses figure that if they hear no compl;aints, they don't have to do squat. So maybe, maybe if the issue is raised in as a collective manner as possible, resolution might happen quickly.

Thanks again for the responses, I will give those things both of you mentioned (that I haven't done) a shot. I have experience organizing (and failing), but the situation in this place, i.e. the number of actual workers, has me out of my element and at a loss of what to do.

syndicalist
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Jul 28 2012 15:52
Quote:
The only fans in the store are 2 and they are in 1 corner of the store; they don't do a thing since they're made to be used in the rooms of a house.

Perhaps the upping the ante would be around the type of fan used. Like, I used to work in warehouses where it was always hot as hell (and some places were like hell, another bitty),
but we used to have these monster fans that would circulate the (hot) air. But the it would at least circulate the air. And if you are in a humid place, at least the circulation takes some of that out (by a bit). Perhaps a small victory over the fans might encourage other issues to be raised and bringing about a small sense of collectively (maybe not, but at least there might be some minor heat relief for all).

Quote:
I have experience organizing (and failing), but the situation in this place, i.e. the number of actual workers, has me out of my element and at a loss of what to do.

Comrade, we all have tasted the acrid taste of defeat, sad to say. It just goes with the territory, as they say. Some places are easier to organize then others. Retail,small shop wholesale, small mfg. shops can be most difficult because of the smaller numbers involved. That said, if folks
can be "won" to certain positions, well, a bit easier to organize 3, then 30 or 300. And sometimes, ya just can't organize at all. But, it's worth the try.

syndicalist
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Jul 28 2012 15:53

DP.

Ethos's picture
Ethos
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Aug 3 2012 18:26
syndicalist wrote:
Quote:
The only fans in the store are 2 and they are in 1 corner of the store; they don't do a thing since they're made to be used in the rooms of a house.

Perhaps the upping the ante would be around the type of fan used. Like, I used to work in warehouses where it was always hot as hell (and some places were like hell, another bitty),
but we used to have these monster fans that would circulate the (hot) air. But the it would at least circulate the air. And if you are in a humid place, at least the circulation takes some of that out (by a bit). Perhaps a small victory over the fans might encourage other issues to be raised and bringing about a small sense of collectively (maybe not, but at least there might be some minor heat relief for all).

Quote:
I have experience organizing (and failing), but the situation in this place, i.e. the number of actual workers, has me out of my element and at a loss of what to do.

Comrade, we all have tasted the acrid taste of defeat, sad to say. It just goes with the territory, as they say. Some places are easier to organize then others. Retail,small shop wholesale, small mfg. shops can be most difficult because of the smaller numbers involved. That said, if folks
can be "won" to certain positions, well, a bit easier to organize 3, then 30 or 300. And sometimes, ya just can't organize at all. But, it's worth the try.

Thanks very much for the encouraging words, comrade. As of today one of the other workers has left (not the RP fanatic), so it is pretty much a done deal. I'm gonna have to throw in the towel and search for another job. I really appreciate the help you guys provided, though.

syndicalist
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Aug 5 2012 05:02

Good luck to ya. trusting the next job you find will have heat for the Winter groucho