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USC Workers Unionize; OSHA Ergonomics Citation; House Finds Meatpacking Abuses; SSDS Attys on Panel

Updated: Jun 14

June 8, 2022

WORKERS VOTE TO UNIONIZE WITH CIR/SEIU AT USC; INTERNS AND RESIDENTS PREPARE TO STRIKE AT LA COUNTY HOSPITALS

Interns, residents, and fellows at USC Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles voted unanimously to join the largest housestaff union in the United States, CIR/SEIU. The election was certified by the National Labor Relations Board on May 13th. In addition, one thousand three hundred unionized residents at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center have been without a contract since September 30, 2021. On Tuesday, May 31st, the Union announced that 99% of its members authorized a strike if necessary. CIR/ SEIU members at Los Angeles County Hospitals are asking for wage increases and a $10,000 housing allowance. Burnout, COVID-19, and low wages have spurred action among the rank-and-file. The Los Angeles Times reports that residents can work up to 24 hours in one shift, up to 80 hours in one week, and receive only around $18 per hour. SSDS’s Kirill Penteshin provides ongoing legal support to CIR/SEIU and its members. Read more coverage here: https://abc7.com/doctors-hospitals-los-angeles-county-strike/11912091/
 

RARE OSHA CITATION REQUIRES EMPLOYER TO ADDRESS ERGONOMICS

In December, Seaboard Foods in Guymon, Oklahoma, was issued a serious violation citation for making its workers repeatedly lift 50-to-90-pound boxes onto conveyor belts. OSHA has not issued an ergonomics citation in several years. In May, the Agency reached a settlement with the Company that reduced fines but requires the Company to take concrete actions to consider the ergonomics impact on its workers. The State of Oklahoma does not have a state occupational safety and health plan. Neither the OSH Act nor its regulations provide concrete ergonomic standards, which make obtaining citations difficult for workers and their advocates. Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers assisted UFCW District Union Local 2 with this Complaint and settlement. Read more coverage here: https://workdayminnesota.org/in-rare-case-a-large-meatpacking-plant-is-being-forced-to-address-workers-repetitive-motion-injuries/
 


SELECT SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS FINDS ABUSES IN MEATPACKING INDUSTRY

On May 12, the House’s select subcommittee on the coronavirus released a scathing report describing how the meatpacking industry worked with the Trump Administration to keep operations open despite the grave risk to meatpacking workers nationwide. SSDS congratulates its client, United Food and Commercial Workers District Union Local 2, and its President Martin Rosas, who testified before the congressional committee to shed light on the dangerous conditions in the industry. During the pandemic, SSDS has assisted the Local in filling several OSHA complaints concerning unsafe working conditions related to COVID-19 inside meat and pork processing facilities in remote parts of the U.S.. Read more coverage, here.
 

SSDS ATTORNEYS PARTICIPATE IN UNION LAWYER ALLIANCE CONFERENCE, LACBA MAY PANEL

On a panel titled, Hacking and Data Theft Prevention for Union Lawyers, SSDS partner Amy Cu, along with co-panelists, General Counsel of the United Steelworkers and the Assistant General Counsel at SAG-AFTRA, discussed leveraging cybersecurity practices to protect unions and their members. Specifically, Amy’s portion of the talk focused on the recent guidance issued by the Employee Benefits Security Administration, which was geared toward benefit plan fiduciaries, recordkeepers, and participants, as well as useful cybersecurity insights from the guidance that could be broadly applied to various aspects of the practice of union-side labor law. ULA Members can access the conference paper, here. Senior Associate Melanie Luthern Allen participated on State & Local Legislation for Workers with co-panelists Arthur Liou, Leon Dayan, and moderator Bart Sheard of the AFL-CIO. Melanie discussed recent state and local legislation across the country with a focus on how legislation can aid worker organizing and power. Among other topics, she discussed recent legislative gains addressing COVID-19 hazard pay, rehire rights, public health committees, fair scheduling, hotel worker safety, warehouse worker quotas, dues deduction for community organizations, and NLRA supercession exemptions under specific circumstances. ULA Members can access the conference paper, here. Partner Kirill Penteshin was also featured on a panel at the LA County Bar Association (LACBA) 2022 Labor & Employment Law Section Annual Retreat titled “Thorny Immigration & Labor Law Issues in the Purchase & Sale of a Business.” As the union-side panelist, Kirill addressed issues related to successorship and the guarantees which collective bargaining agreements can provide for unionized employees when a business is transferred, including requirements that the new employer retains the existing workforce and assumes the predecessor’s union contract. Another key topic was the violations of the NLRA an incoming employer commits when it seeks to bust the union by deliberately discriminating against former employees in its re-hire process. The panel also discussed issues related to work authorization and I-9 review, and the protections from unnecessary scrutiny and reverification which employees enjoy both under the law and under certain CBA immigration provisions.
 

WELCOME TO SSDS, PEGGY BROWNING FELLOW, ELIZABETH MACHADO!

Margo Feinberg, Amy Cu, and Elizabeth Machado at the LAANE Women’s Luncheon. Elizabeth is a rising 3L at Loyola Law School and a Public Interest Scholar.
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