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It Oughta Be a Crime

By: BriarCraft , 7:37 PM GMT on May 15, 2014

In the blogosphere, I generally stay away from politics and religion and other such incendiary topics. Sometimes, however, I chose not to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, I become aware of something so egregious, that I feel the need to make others aware.

Growing up in the 60s, I learned the power of protest and dissent as I handed out pamphlets supporting the Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, urging shoppers to boycott grapes. But that is another story from another time.

My current outrage involves the not frackin' Bakken, big oil, or the climate change exacerbated by all the pollution they cause. We could go there and have all sorts of political/economical/ecological arguments, but I don't want to.

What I do want to draw attention to is another symptom of the eroding of unions and worker rights and worker protections, which in turn is a symptom of the continuing erosion of the middle class.

In North Dakota, there will be blood
* Deaths on the job in North Dakota more than doubled from 2007 to 2012, rising from 25 to 65.
* The one-time death benefit for workers killed on the job in North Dakota: $1,200. If the worker has dependent children, that payment goes up by $400 per child. The state also covers documented funeral expenses, but only up to $6,500.
* The best single indicator of callous disregard for human life shown by North Dakota lawmakers is the benefit authorized for orphans, a maximum of $10 per month. That's right -- $10 (ten dollars) per month.
* The worst abuse is in setting the bar so low that the state has removed any economic incentive for companies to invest in practices and equipment that prevent deaths and injuries from falls, falling objects, accidents on the road, and other dangers.

Read more about it at:
http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/5/nort h-dakota-workerdeathsbakkenoilgas.html

If this offends you, think how it offends workers being killed on the job at 5 times the national average, and their widows and orphans.

It oughta be a crime!

I'll take this down in a few days and replace it with something pleasant.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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13. BriarCraft
8:33 PM GMT on May 17, 2014
WW: Thanks for coming back and filling in some of the blanks of your earlier comment! I admit I'm a bit sensitive to church groups doing "charity" work when all that really amounts to is a group vacation to Africa to sew dresses for little girls. I kid you not, I personally know not one, but two such people from two different churches. They were so excited about being able to do "good works" to help out those poor Africans. It all seemed so prideful and racist and righteous to me that I still get mad thinking about it.

I should have known that you weren't one of those. And thanks for the reading recommendation: Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton. I'm always looking for another good read, as it is one of my goals never to stop learning.

Mike: There are very few black-and-white issues. Life should be so simple! Thomas Piketty's new book "Capital" is definitely on my To Read list. I agree that economic inequality has not been so great since the Roaring 20s. Every time I see a new McMansion development springing up, I wonder again where do these people get so much money? Whatever it is, while it may be legal, it probably ain't right -- as in the Gordon Gekko and the DMA let-them-eat-cake types.

Oh, and I'm glad you find me interesting in a good way! ;- }

YCD: Thanks for coming by to comment even after the AlertBot announced I had done a new entry. Somehow, I'm not surprised that you "enjoyed nothing better than running a jack-hammer while them suitandties were having a meeting." My dad would definitely give you an AttaBoy for that!

And I hope you don't run out of "Damn Fool's Luck" for a good long time!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. ycd0108
7:06 PM GMT on May 17, 2014
Looking back I'd have to say the only thing that kept me from maiming or killing myself or someone else on the job was the "Damn Fool's Luck".
Our "OSHA" is now called "Work Safe B.C." or something. I was employed by the previous name: "Workers' Compensation Board" for a few months in the early '70s. We renovated their head office in Vancouver to the tune of a few million just before they built the next generation of offices in Richmond to another tune.
We enjoyed nothing better than running a jack-hammer while them suitandties were having a meeting.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
6:50 PM GMT on May 17, 2014
BriarCraft has created a new entry.
10. clearlakemike
6:12 PM GMT on May 17, 2014
Interesting to learn more about you, Briar. You are an interesting person and I mean that in a good way :). Interesting comments also.

Money talks, bullsh*t walks, that is how life goes....never more than now, I suppose. Or at least since the late 1770's according to Thomas Piketty in his popular new book "Capital". And as other pundits have pointed out that we are in a new gilded age not seen since the late 1920's.

May you live in interesting times - the old "Chinese" curse cliché. I think I worked in the poster child of that in San Francisco. New York is the other one. We use to call our employers the DMA, the Daughters of Marie Antoinette, lol. You have to either go along with or try to fight back and be ready for the consequences. If you are one of the lucky talented ones that can break out into the 1% then hooray for you. A very simplistic summary, I guess. There is a lot of "gray" and it is not so black and white. If you really care (and sometimes it gets exhausting if you are just trying to survive,) then ‘There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’ -- Eldridge Cleaver
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. WeatherWise
8:11 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
Sorry, did not mean to get off topic. Re: what percentage of all this data is on the NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN RESERVATIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA? - Knew I did not know enough to really discuss and explain it but had just heard about this at our last WMU meeting. The trip involves a lot more than just clothing - that is just one little part that our little women's mission group can contribute and support the effort. And being this is off topic, I will not expand but give you a link that tells many of the thing the folks do while there like Kids Club, Grounds and Games, Adult Crafts, Construction, Medical, BookNet Project and Ditty (Toiletry) Bags, Operation Warm Winter, Holiday Helpers, Teen Club, Community Gardens, Summer School and Family Portraits at http://wmuv.org/missions-for-all-ages-and-culture s/adults-and-seniors/standing-rock-reservation/

I would hope that they were definitely conducting activities that would help them learn new skills to help to support themselves. And I have heard of that statement : it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him fish. I have worked my way through a book with a small group that your might enjoy or may have already read: Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton Think that example was in the book. Once again, sorry to be off topic.

Have a great weekend! Has cooled down here, too, and is too wet to mow today. Will think of you out there whirring around with the mower. Take care.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. BriarCraft
7:11 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
I do love it when I see a lively discussion like this! If only we could get our politicians to do the same.

WW: Your heart is in the right place, but I'll just say this: As someone said, it is better to teach a man to fish than to give him fish.

Poppy: Thanks for adding some more facts. It really paints a grim picture, doesn't it?

Mike: Sure is! Regardless of circumstances.

GG: Thanks for adding those perspectives. I especially liked, "I do not have sympathy for macho sheep that will not stand up for themselves and vote for their own repression on the promise they can repress others." That is so sad but true and there is a part of me that feels those macho sheep are only getting what they deserve. As comedian Ron White is fond of saying, "You can't fix stupid." And evolution will eventually take care of it as the stupid get killed on the job instead of reproducing.

Not all blue collar workers are stupid. At least here on the "left" coast, most blue collar workers vote left. I am proud that Washington has a high minimum wage and strong worker rights because the voters had the good sense to demand those things.

My dad was a union sheet metal worker until he retired. When he was around 40 he was sent on a job to put ventilation in monster grain elevators being built. The job required him to work 250 feet above a concrete floor. Without proper safety precautions. He demanded better. And got it. But after that job, he was black-listed by the major contractors, meaning that when there was a call to the union for a worker, the union was told not to send Tom (my dad). After that, his only jobs were "inside" jobs, doing layout and prefab in shops -- better work, actually, but that meant he was unemployed twice as much as most others until he retired.

So yes, I'm P.O.ed that stupid macho sheep vote in the politicians who ultimately make things worse for them. On the other hand, it ain't right that workers are forced into the position of having to choose between feeding their families and working an unnecessarily dangerous job. Sometimes, because of prior stupidity, there are no good choices.

You are not being a jerk at all. You are pointing a finger right back to the root of too many problems: Gullible people who believe campaign double-talk and elect politicians who are owned by big oil and other mega-rich special interests that then give those same gullible people the "right to work" in dangerous or low paying jobs.

Ylee: You are absolutely right that a couple of calls to OSHA, or even the Dept. of Labor could put a stop to at least some of those dangerous practices. But that requires a certain level of knowledge that I think a lot of younger workers don't have. While not yet geezers, you and GG still grew up in a time when unions were stronger than they are now. Even nonunion workers knew full well about their rights. In today's political climate, I wonder if that is still true for the newest generation of workers? I have no clue if it is or isn't.

Skye: Thank you! While GG is right about a lot of macho redneck sheep, there are also those who don't fit into that classification and who are working a miserable job in a miserable place out of necessity. Even if they don't have much in the way of death benefits or workers compensation for accidents, they are at least being paid well. So the can afford pay for long-term disability insurance and life insurance -- small consolation that is if something happens to them. It really oughta be a crime for people like the ones you know who have done to North Dakota out of desperation.

Sandi: Ironically, while dangerous work conditions are allowed to exist in places like North Dakota, there are other cases in the U.S. where there is getting to be too much of a "Nanny State" mentality. Having seat belts on swings and removing the sort of playground equipment that you and I used to enjoy are prime examples. I think it is silly that food workers have to put on plastic disposable gloves before making my sandwich. It is extremes like these that make me long for the middle ground. What happened to moderation? It all seems to have gone into the trash along with the plastic knives. How wasteful! I don't think it is reasonable for people to want or expect absolute safety from every possible hazard. It is equally unreasonable to find oneself in a situation where there is no incentive for an employer to have any regard for the employees.

The weather here has cooled down and the day is overcast, so I'm off to catch up on the mowing. Rain showers are due for the weekend. WU can keep the discussion going while I'm outside riding the mower around in circles.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. sandiquiz
4:23 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
Mmn, Let me see..... here we have "jobs-worth".
The H&S rules here are so tight it has become silly in some cases.
We are getting known as "The Nanny State" .... and silly rules are cropping up.....

For instance, kids are not allowed to play with conkers, skipping ropes or yoyo's in the school grounds; the council offices where microwaves and kettles have been removed from the kitchen for H&S reasons; the fire officers who can't climb ladders to fit fire alarms, and have to use cherry pickers; and the fast food restaurant who have had to remove the metal cutlery to replace it with plastic... not because it might be dangerous, but 'might be' unhygienic! The list goes on!

In large industries, the legislation attached to each job is updated annually!

But what you have described... well, that's totally unacceptable.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Skyepony (Mod)
3:47 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
The work hours leave those guys exhausted too. I'm forwarding this on to a few large families who's Dads are working out there from pure necessity. With odds & benefits like that they should atleast know to get life-insurance.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. Ylee
2:29 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
I'll echo what GG says and say that the vast majority of those deaths were caused by employee ignorance of OSHA regulations. Drilling for oil is a potentially dangerous business, but years of regulations and safety procedures(Lock out-Tag-out, for example) should have mitigated injuries and deaths. If an employee is threatened with dismissal because he/she doesn't want to do something that could hurt/maim/kill them, then they need to make a couple of phone calls to OSHA.

Of course, North Dakota is a right to work state, so there's no union backing the workers, either.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. GardenGrrl
1:59 PM GMT on May 16, 2014
While I agree the legislatures should enforce laws to protect citizens instead of corporations, a lot of that fault falls squarely on the shoulders of the people that will put up with those conditions.

Continually blue collar workers vote for politicians that totally screw them over just because that politician promises to let them have guns and promises to screw over another minority these blue collar folks don't like.

I have been on jobs where guys will do insanely stupid and dangerous stuff "to save the company money" and because the boss says so. These stupid things also violate OHSA rules etc etc. These guys know they can get hurt. They know they will not be compensated and they tuck their tails and do it anyways.

When presented with a stupidly dangerous way to do something I usually say, Hmmmmm let's see. you want me/us to do -insert stupid things here- while outlining the dangers and how ridiculous it is to consider it, offer alternatives and you know what? We don't do the stupid thing.

This has worked when guys say "Oh we have always done this, yeah it's dangerous but I need my job". Wow. Just once I have had to refuse and suddenly it is not done anymore.

I do not have sympathy for macho sheep that will not stand up for themselves and vote for their own repression on the promise they can repress others.

They are not victims they are volunteers.

I don't mean to be a jerk here, but I have worked in a hazardous environment for years and have never been fired for saying no to something stupid.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. WeatherWise
8:47 PM GMT on May 15, 2014
And wonder what percentage of all this data is on the NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN RESERVATIONS IN NORTH DAKOTA?
A church sponsored missions group is headed out to Standing Rock, this summer.

Standing Rock Reservation is the fourth largest Indian reservation in the U.S., with 2.3 million acres on the border of North and South Dakota. The reservation is home to about 8,500 people who deal with issues of poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence and unemployment. Only one-third of the population is employed. Desolate land and extreme weather conditions make this area a difficult place to work and live.

And I could go on with more info. We My WMU group and WMU groups all across VA are collecting new clothing to send along with this group.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. clearlakemike
8:44 PM GMT on May 15, 2014
That is a BIG difference in deaths!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. calpoppy
8:30 PM GMT on May 15, 2014
This is from the Claims Journal

North Dakota has the country’s highest death rate for workers in the oil, gas and mining sector, at more than six times the national average, and an even higher rate among construction workers, according to a new report from the nation’s largest labor union.

The AFL-CIO report, compiled from data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that North Dakota had a rate of 104 deaths per 100,000 workers in the oil, gas and mining industry in 2012. The national average was 15.9 deaths per 100,000 for the industry.
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