Six people are dead after a liquid nitrogen leak at a Georgia poultry plant and 11 others were hospitalized, with at least three in critical condition. Two of the people killed were Mexican citizens, and those injured included at least four firefighters.
“When leaked into the air, liquid nitrogen vaporizes into an odorless gas that’s capable of displacing oxygen,” the Associated Press explains. “That means leaks in enclosed spaces can become deadly by pushing away breathable air, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.”
The Foundation Food Group plant, previously known as Prime Pak Foods, was cited for worker amputations in 2017.
”Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the six workers who tragically died and those who were critically injured in a preventable accident at the Foundation Food Group plant in Gainesville, Georgia,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a response. “This did not have to happen. Safety concerns have long been raised as a major issue in many poultry plants, and Thursday’s incident shows what can happen when those calls go unheard.”
● In a six-day strike, Bronx produce workers doubled their raise and inspired New York, Bianca Cunningham reports.
● A new report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds collective bargaining agreements put construction workers in the middle class:
They found that a typical union journeyworker earns $77,300 per year, which is comparable to that of urban Illinois workers with bachelor’s degrees. The study also found that apprenticeship programs paid by CBAs turn out 97% of all local construction apprentices.
● The early attempts at workplace protections for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic have been replaced by updated, improved methods:
After nearly a year of study, the lessons include: Mask-wearing, worker pods and good air flow are much more important than surface cleaning, temperature checks and plexiglass barriers in places like offices and restaurants. And more public-health experts now advocate wide use of cheap, rapid tests to detect cases quickly, in part because many scientists now think more than 50% of infections are transmitted by people without symptoms.
● Emotions on strike: Sarah Jaffe reviews Anne Helen Petersen’s Can’t Even.
● Union density went up last year! Don’t get too excited, Hamilton Nolan writes. Seriously, don’t get too excited.
● The Department of Labor has ended a program that allowed employers to self-report minimum wage and overtime violations. Elections matter.
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