Friday, January 6, 2012

Workers' Rights Center at City College

We have a WORKERS’ RIGHTS CENTER on campus that is here to educate and help you!
When: Mon-Thurs from 11-2 and Friday from 8-12
Where: A-113 E (Financial Aid area)
Info: or
Brought to you by AFT Local 1931 and the ERC of San Diego

Saturday, May 1, 2010

San Diego Employee Right Center

More info about the ERC

 San Diego's Employee Rights Center (ERC)

Do You Know Your Rights As an Employee?

Even if you don’t have a union, you have labor rights!
Even if you don’t have documents, you have labor rights!


Regular office hours are 9:00 to 5:00 PM on Monday through Friday.
Other hours are by appointment only.
Phone the Center’s 24-hour message line at (619) 521-1372
Office: 4265 Fairmount Avenue, Suite 210, San Diego, CA
Located in City Heights near the I-15 freeway
More information: ERC Website

The San Diego's Employee Rights Center (ERC) was created in 1999 to support nonunion workers with a host of issues, including unemployment claims, wage disputes, immigrants’ labor rights and demands against unscrupulous companies and employers.

The Center, with its law school student volunteers, can educate, assist and advocate for you. Education about your rights is provided for free. Representation services are available for low fees that you can afford. The Center’s activities are sponsored by the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Labor’s Alliance (501c3), local unions, grants, tax-deductible contributions and various private foundations.


For 10 years the Employee Rights Center in City Heights has been providing education and advocacy to all workers regarding their workplace rights and benefits. Its offices are centrally located by the corner of Fairmount Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard and are open Monday through Friday 9 AM to 5 PM, allowing City Heights residents and all others to walk in at their convenience or call the Center’s 24-hour message service.

As the only non-profit program in San Diego that is focused on workplace rights, the Center has helped thousands of low-income employees recover their unpaid wages, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, and other workplace benefits. These benefits are crucial in improving employees’ ability to pay their rent, get access to health care when injured, to maintain their family’s welfare, and to be self-sufficient. The Center uses over 20 local law student volunteers supervised by an attorney to deliver these services and further educate all employees about their workplace rights/benefits. The Center recruits a diverse cadre of law students of Latino, African, Asian, and Middle Eastern descent in order to have culturally competent services to immigrant communities.

Since 2004 the Center has also been helping immigrant workers get legal status, improvetheir immigrant status and become U.S. citizens, all fundamental needs in City Heights. There are no other non-profit immigration services in City Heights serving its large, diverse immigrant populations who need convenient, low-cost service and education. By being here the Center is accountable to the community it serves. The Center not only provides all these services at its Fairmount Avenue offices, it also provides education on workplace rights and immigration status at various community workshops currently being organized with community partners in the area.

No union? No problem

No union? No problem
Peter Zschiesche founded and runs a center that helps workers

Many entrepreneurs fail to make a lot of money. Peter Zschiesche is among the small group who never made money a goal.

The director of San Diego's Employee Rights Center could perhaps be characterized as a nonprofit entrepreneur. The center he created in 1999 has turned into a catchall agency helping nonunion workers with a host of issues, including unemployment claims, wage disputes and proceedings at the National Labor Relations Board.

It's much like a labor union office – for workers without a union.

Hundreds of workers each year come through the door of the center's modest offices at Fairmount and El Cajon in San Diego. Many more raise inquiries over the phone.

Salud y Seguridad de los Trabajadores

Sus Derechos y Responsabilidades

Según las leyes estatales y federales, los trabajadores tienen derecho a un lugar de trabajo seguro y saludable .

En California, Cal/OSHA establece y hace cumplir las leyes que explican lo que los empleadores deben hacer para mantener la seguridad en el lugar de trabajo. Estos, se dividen en tres categorías:

El derecho a saber sobre los peligros del lugar de trabajo, este se cumple cuando se nos informa con que productos estamos trabajando, cuales son sus efectos, como manejarlos debidamente, etc. Tambien tenemos derecho a saber cuales leyes nos protegen y como nos protegen.

El derecho a Proteccion contra la exposición a los peligros , el empleador es responsable de proveer un lugar de trabajo libre de peligros, y si esto no es posible, de proveer equipo de protección personal como ropa, guantes, gafas, zapatos, respiradores, etc.

El derecho a actuar , para poder participar responsablemente en los esfuerzos por crear un lugar de trabajo seguro debemos saber nuestros derechos, conocer agencias que pueden ayudarnos y sentirnos libres de pedirles ayuda. Tambien debemos poder ejercer este derecho participando en actividades con nuestros compañeros de trabajo y los sindicatos que nos representan.

Cal/OSHA- Administracion de Seguridad
y Salud Ocupacional de California
San Diego
7575 Metropolitan Drive,
Ste. 204
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 767-2060

UCLA-LOSH- Programa de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional de la Universidad de California en Los Angeles.

ERC Employee Rights Center
4265 Fairmount Avenue, Ste. 210
San Diego, Ca, 92105
619) 521-1372

Worker Health and Safety
Rights and Responsibilities


Workers have the right to a safe workplace under both state and federal laws. In California,Cal/OSHA sets and enforces standards that spell out in detail what employers must do to keep the workplace safe. The health and safety rights workers have can be put into three categories:

The Right to Know

This is the right to get specific information from your employer about the hazards found in your workplace. Workers must be informed about the products with which they are working, their effects on workers’ health, how to handle them properly, etc. Workers also have a right to know the laws that protect them. Several Cal/OSHA standards give you this right.

The Right to Protection

In California every employer is required to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees. Your employer must try to reduce or eliminate hazards by all possible means. If a hazard can’t be eliminated completely, then your employer must protect you from it by supplying special equipment like respirators, protective clothing, goggles, gloves, safety shoes, or fall protection devices.

Cal/OSHA has many standards that regulate specific hazards. These tell employers what steps they must take to minimize those hazards for workers. Examples include the Lead in Construction standard and the Bloodborne Pathogens standard. (See Factsheet O, Cal/OSHA Standards.)

The Right to Act

This is your right to speak up and take action to improve health and safety conditions at work. It includes the right to make a complaint to Cal/OSHA or other agencies, the right to discuss health and safety problems with your supervisor or manager without fear of discrimination, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to get health and safety information from the employer.

These rights are enforced by Cal/OSHA, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (Labor Commissioner), or the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aumenta robo de salarios

As wage theft rises, states and cities crack down

"Across the nation, the long-simmering problem of employers who don't pay their workers appears to be getting worse, especially for immigrant laborers....In the absence of aggressive federal action, some states and local governments have begun to tackle the issue on their own. They say employers who don't pay overtime or minimum wage are unlikely to pay into state workers' compensation or unemployment insurance funds — bilking taxpayers even as they're cheating workers." (See bellow)

"About 68 percent of low-wage workers reported wage theft in 2008, regardless of citizenship status, according to a study released earlier this year that surveyed 4,400 low-wage workers in major U.S. cities, the first such extensive review in years." (See bellow)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bhopal: One of the worst industrial disasters of the twentieth century

December 2th-4th marks the anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster in India, one of the greatest accidents associated with workplace safety and health and which highlights several important points, including how workplace safety and health is closely related to community and environmental health, and what are the usual underlying causes of such accidents. As you will see, thousands of people died a horrible death and others are still suffering the consequences of minimizing the need to value and protect workers’ (people’s) lives.

These sad remembrance should strengthen our commitment to help create safer workplaces and communities through education, action and policy advocacy.

Below is the transcription of a segment on the Bhopal Disaster as covered in the remarkable program Democracy Now. I am including the link in case you would prefer to see the segment.

Deogracia Cornelio,  MA
Associate Director of Education
UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health Program
10945 Le Conte Avenue
Suite 2107  T
Los Angeles, California 90095
Direct (310) 794-5965
Main    (310) 794-5964
Fax        (310) 794-6403

JUAN GONZALEZ: Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of the worst industrial disasters of the twentieth century. Shortly after midnight on December 3rd, 1984, in the city of Bhopal, India, tons of lethal gases leaked from a pesticide factory run by the US company Union Carbide. Clouds of suffocating gases blanketed the city. Residents awoke with throats burning and tears streaming. The gases produced so much fluid in people’s lungs that many drowned in their own body fluids.

Between 8,000 to 10,000 people lost their lives within days. Thousands more died in the following years. Over 150,000 are still suffering chronic and debilitating illnesses. A new report released this week by the Bhopal Medical Appeal and a local clinic has found that there are still high levels of toxic chemicals in the drinking water supply in fifteen communities near the old plant. Last week Indian authorities decided against reopening the plant. They had announced they would open the factory to prove it no longer poses a threat to public safety, but reversed the decision in the face of protests.

AMY GOODMAN: In August, an Indian court reissued an arrest warrant for the former CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson. The court urged the Indian government to seek his extradition from the United States. In 2001 Union Carbide was bought out by US multinational Dow Chemical. The company has refused to clean up the spreading water contamination from the abandoned plant.

Today, to mark this twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, supporters around the world will be participating in an international day of action, including mass rallies, die-ins, candlelit vigils, protests and more.

I recently spoke with Bhopal chemical disaster activist Satinath Sarangi, known as Sathyu. He is an engineer who arrived in Bhopal the day following the disaster and never left, founding a clinic to provide free care to survivors and becoming a key figure in the survivors’ struggle for justice. He was recently in the United States for a twenty-two-city tour for this twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. His tour was called “No More Bhopals.” I began by asking him to talk about the Bhopal disaster.

SATINATH SARANGI: Twenty-five years has passed, and yet justice has not been done in Bhopal. And yet, even today, there are people who are suffering and dying in Bhopal because of gas leak that happened more than twenty-four years before.

AMY GOODMAN: Sathyu, can you describe what happened twenty-five years ago on those nights, December 3rd, December 4th?

SATINATH SARANGI: Yeah. On the night of 2nd by 3rd December, 1984, over twenty-seven tons of toxic gas leaked from this pesticide factory that was situated right next to where more than 200,000 people, poor people, lived. And this was a factory owned, designed and operated by Union Carbide Corporation USA. And during routine operations, water entered the tank, and because the safety systems were cut down or were very badly designed, and because the entire plant was under-designed, the water reacted with methyl isocyanate, which was stored in very high quantities, and there was a reaction, which then became a runaway reaction so that there was no control. And as it is, safety systems were under-designed, they were also malfunctioning or under repair. And this gas leaked, and like a thirty-feet-high cloud, it covered about the entire city of all Bhopal, more than half a million people.

And there was no warning system in the factory. There was no one—no one from the factory was telling people to run in the opposite direction of the wind and not in the direction of the wind, as they did, and no one to tell them that they could actually protect themselves from the deadly impact of the gas by just holding a wet cloth over their nose and mouth. So the people got to know, only after they were surrounded by this cloud from all around, and they started running. And when they ran, as they ran, they inhaled more and more of this poisonous gas that sheared their lungs. And there was so much secretion of body fluids in their lungs that actually many people died, because they drowned in their own body fluids. And then there were lots and lots of people who died because of the effect on the brain. Women were aborting as they ran.

And it was the next—by the next morning, there were thousands of people dead. Within the first three days, between eight and ten thousand people died. And then in the subsequent years, more people died because of the damage that was caused to almost every organ in the body, because the poisons that people inhaled, they went into the bloodstream through their lungs and stayed there and damaged their lungs, their brain, liver, kidneys. And even more than 100,000 people still have chronic illnesses from that exposure. The next generation, we know, is marked by Carbide’s poisons. In addition, there were 30,000 people who had been drinking contaminated groundwater from the factory. Because of the reckless dumping of hazardous waste, they are sick, as well, and there is a high rise of birth defects in this population.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you, who were not originally from Bhopal, didn’t live in Bhopal, why did you go there?

SATINATH SARANGI: I heard on the radio about it, and I thought that I must do something, and I thought I would just go to Bhopal and maybe—and do a week’s—one week’s relief work and then get back to my studies.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened?

SATINATH SARANGI: And once I went there, I saw this just too many people suffering too badly, and I also saw that many people had come to help, and so I joined them. And then, none of us were thinking about how long we had been there, because it was—help was so much needed. People were working day and night just trying to ease the pain that thousands and thousands and thousands of people were going through.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Union Carbide, what it did at the time of the spill, how you believe it happened, and then how the Indian government dealt with them, and where they stand today.

SATINATH SARANGI: Yeah. What is very clear from the internal documents of Union Carbide that we obtained through the discovery process in the US federal court is that, to start with, back in ’73, when the proposal for the methyl isocyanate plant in Bhopal was approved by the Union Carbide Corporation’s Danbury, Connecticut headquarters, they knew very well that, to cut costs, they had sent “untested technology,” quote-unquote. And this untested technology involved substandard construction material. It involved substantial design changes compared to its sister plant in Institute, West Virginia. And it was built in a way that its operating costs would be much lower. And it was also built in a way that they would just dump toxic waste on the surface, which would—and there was—they already—the Union Carbide’s management already knew that a serious problem of contamination would occur. And yet, this was sent to Bhopal.

In 1980, it was made further unsafe by—because of the global cost cutting that Union Carbide headquarters from Danbury, Connecticut directed, which meant that workers were cut down. It was cut down to about half, so that while safety training used to be six months, it was cut down to fifteen days. And as a result of this cost cutting, very soon the results were apparent, which was workers were hospitalized, they were injured. One worker died. And all this information was sent from the Bhopal office to Union Carbide’s headquarters, but they took no note. What happened was they sent—Union Carbide Corporation sent a safety audit team of engineers from Charleston, West Virginia in 1982, and this team found that there were at least thirty spots where major hazard could occur in the Bhopal pesticide plant. And eleven of them were in the methyl isocyanate 7 unit, which is where the disaster occurred. But none of these—nothing was done about these hazard spots to remedy this. The information was not even shared with the local management or the workers. And so, this was a disaster waiting to occur. And Union Carbide knew that, and yet they went ahead with the cost cutting, which included shutting down a refrigeration system that was meant to be kept—that was mandated to be kept there to keep the methyl isocyanate at sub-zero temperature. Instead, the refrigeration unit was cut down just to save something like $30 a day. And so, all these deliberate design differences, the cutting down of safety systems, all this led to the disaster, which was very, very clear.

And right after the disaster, Union Carbide took this position that it was caused by a disgruntled worker, deliberately it was caused by a disgruntled worker who didn’t like the way the management was treating them, which is a very, very serious lie, because Union Carbide has not given the name of this person who—this worker who they say was disgruntled and who they say caused a sabotage, without any evidence.

The other thing that Union Carbide has done is tried to bring down the damage, downplay the damage that was caused, by flying in well-known professionals like Hans Weill, who had fudged x-ray pictures to protect Johns Manville in the asbestosis case. So Hans Weill was flown in, Dr. Hans Weill was flown in, and he said, “No, there’s no problem.”

And the third thing that Union Carbide has done is to flex its muscles and basically try to scare people against that. Like the time when the case was sent back to India, Union Carbide said that they would cross-examine every single person who claims damages from the disaster, which meant they would have—that each of the over half a million people would have to come to court, which would take more than 1,500 years.

And since ’92, when Union Carbide was declared an absconder from justice, a fugitive from justice, what it has done is that it continues to refuse to obey the summons from the Indian court, and it’s just not going there. And yet it continues—we know that it continues to do business through its current owner, Dow Chemical. And Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide in 2001, but they bought the assets. And Dow Chemical’s position is that, oh, we are not liable for Bhopal, we cannot be made responsible for a factory we never ran in a place we never went, which is totally, totally unjust. It’s wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: Sathyu, you have in 1987 the Bhopal district court charging Union Carbide and its officials and the CEO Warren Anderson with culpable homicide, grievous assault and other serious offenses. In 1989, Union Carbide and the Indian government arrived at a negotiated settlement of what, almost $500 million for all gas disaster-related injuries. Where is that money?

SATINATH SARANGI: That—Union Carbide paid $470 million for more than half a million people victimized. That money has all been distributed. Every single penny from that money has gone to the victims. It has been done by the Indian government. But it has been paltry. It was $500 per person for lifelong injuries and $2,000 for deaths that occurred in the families.

AMY GOODMAN: As you were here in the United States, did you meet with Dow, which owns Union Carbide?

SATINATH SARANGI: No, in this tour, we did not meet with them. Earlier, we have met them twice, but those meetings were extremely frustrating, because they just would direct us to meet with their corporate communications people, who we know that they are just trained to say just one thing. So we did not meet with them. We did not think there was going to be anything good coming out of that.

AMY GOODMAN: What are your demands today?

SATINATH SARANGI: Our demands are simple. We are saying that Dow Chemical should be responsible for the toxic contamination of groundwater and soil, and Dow should clean up that waste, and that they should pay for the health damages caused and to find out how many people are sick and how many children have been born with birth defects because of these poisons, and that Union Carbide and its official Warren Anderson should present themselves in the Indian court, where the criminal case is ongoing.

AMY GOODMAN: Sathyu Sarangi, what gives you hope twenty-five years after the Bhopal disaster?

SATINATH SARANGI: It is because that these twenty-five years have not been just suffering or just struggle; it has been also—been filled with so many victories, small and large, by the people who have nothing and who have all odds against them and who are fighting one of the giants in the—giant chemical corporation that has the quite obvious support, at least ’til recently, of the most powerful government in the world, and yet they are winning. So, that’s my hope.

AMY GOODMAN: Bhopal chemical disaster activist Satinath Sarangi. This is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. On the 2nd and 3rd of December in 1984, there was a Union Carbide gas leak in Bhopal. It led to the death of more than 10,000 people. Now more than 150,000 people remain impaired, injured.