Monday, July 19, 2010

Imperial Sugar pays fines, workers protest McConnell, and a labor professor fights for his job

A quick look at some of the labor and worker-related activity around the South gives us another indication that more and more people are standing up for their rights, and that a movement is underway despite the blanket of silence many in the media maintain.

The 2008 explosion at the Imperial Sugar Co. plant in Savannah that killed 14 people has finally resulted in a settlement. The company will pay $6 million in fines. The sum could have been much higher, and the company has not admitted to any liability. The federal fines were levied for multiple safety violations.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found more than 100 violations at company plants in Georgia and Louisiana.

The company still faces

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's stand against extending jobless aid prompted a protest outside his office in Louisville, Ky., earlier this month. McConnell led a Republican assault on the proposed extension despite the fact that more than 1.7 million have lost their unemployment benefits since June 1.

The Kentucky AFL-CIO led the protest against the veteran Kentucky Republican and demanded that he stand up for working people who are simply trying to survive the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Senate Democrats this week were able to overcome the McConnell-led Republican filibuster and set the stage for renewed benefits for hard-pressed workers who've lost their jobs.

Labor historian Glenn Feldman at the University of Alabama in Birmingham says that pro-business forces at his university are trying to get rid of them, and he has filed two lawsuits to make sure they don't get away with it.

Feldman, who established a chapter of the American Association of University Professors at the university and ran a training center there as well, has filed a faculty grievance and a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The university no longer supports his training center.

Helping him in his cause are members of the United Steelworkers.

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