Democracy Now! September 2, 2002

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Democracy Now! September 2, 2002
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LABOR DAY SPECIAL: as dockworker s negotiations break down and a work slow-down looms, Bush threatens to bring in troops; LABOR DAY SPECIAL, part 2, immigrant workers: 100 airport workers are arrested in Los Angeles; hundreds of thousands flee Malaysian crackdown; LABOR DAY SPECIAL, part 3, Unjust Rewards : Washington rewards workplace safety violators with millions of dollars in contracts

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:20: Negotiations over the West Coast dockworkers contract broke down over the weekend. This means that over 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union may begin work slowdowns as early as tomorrow at some 30 major West Coast ports that handle the booming Pacific Rim trade. If they do, the shipping lines say they will lock out the dockworkers. The LA Times recently reported the Bush administration has threatened to bring in troops to quell any strike. The ports which would be affected handle more than $300 billion in trade annually. Labor observers see the dispute as possibly the defining union conflict of the Bush era. In a recent report for the Inter Press Service, labor journalist David Bacon writes, The traditional bargaining issues - wages, benefits and working conditions - have been pre-empted by a much more basic one: do dockers have the right to strike at all? Bacon continues, Union leaders fear signs that President George W. Bush will attempt to benefit from his ongoing 'war on terror' to label any future strike by the workers a threat to national security. Guest: Jack Heyman, officer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: In the Los Angeles area some 100 airport workers were arrested in government raids in August. Most of them were immigrants. Government officials said the workers had used false IDs and lied about their immigration status to obtain security clearances. Nationwide, some 350 airport workers have been arrested in similar sweeps since Sept. 11. The arrests come as part of Operation Tarmac, an initiative of the INS and Social Security Administration to review the immigration records of 200,000 workers at about 100 airports. Under the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, permanent residents of all nationalities who are currently employed as airport screeners will soon be summarily fired from their jobs and barred from reapplying as screeners, presumptively treated as security risks by virtue of their lawful non-citizenship status. The crackdown is affecting immigrant workers regardless of their skill, experience, and dedication. During a two-week stint in 2000, Erlinda Valencia spotted a loaded handgun and a disarmed novelty hand grenade in bags passing through the screening machine she operates in the domestic terminal at the San Francisco International Airport. That month she earned her security firm s top screener award. Despite her 14 years of experience, she could lose her position if she does not get citizenship before November. Meanwhile, there is a much, much larger crackdown on immigrants in Malaysia right now. Indonesian health officials are reporting that thousands of workers expelled from Malaysia in a crackdown on immigrants are suffering from respiratory diseases and other ailments after being sent to a remote border camp with little clean water and poor sanitary conditions. Protesters in the Philippines burned pictures of the Malaysian leader after reports that several Filipino children had died after being held in the overcrowded detention centers in Malaysia. Malaysia began enforcing tough new measures last month against illegal migrant workers, including caning and hefty fines. Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia's most prosperous countries. The mainstream Western news media is reporting over 300,000 migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia have fled or been expelled. Human rights workers say over a million and a half have fled. Filipino news sources are also reporting that as many as 3,000 homes of Filipinos have also been burned down. Malaysia temporarily halted the controversial program over the weekend. Today Philippine officials traveled to Malaysia to seek the repatriation of the deportees. GUEST: Erlinda Valencia, Baggage screener at San Francisco Airport GUEST: Lilianne Fan, Amnesty International GUEST: Saskia Sassen, author of Guests and Aliens and Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:58: Nearly 100 years ago, Upton Sinclair published The Jungle , a muckraking expose of the meat industry that brought to light many of the great dangers American workers faced on the job. A century later, workplace safety remains a key issue for labor unions who charge the federal government has failed to set proper standards. Last week the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Doug Dority told reporters, Workers depending on voluntary guidelines developed by the big corporations for workplace safety protections is like depending on an Enron 401(k) plan for your retirement security -- nobody gets hurt in the boardroom, but workers lose everything." Workers can lose everything, including their life. An estimated 165 people across the country die every day from illnesses related to their jobs. Another 18 will die from work-related injuries. And the government has not only failed to enforce its own standards but also awarded billions of dollars in contracts to many of the very corporations who have among the worst worker safety records. According to a recent investigative report by Ken Silverstein in Mother Jones magazine, over fifty of the nation s largest contractors were cited for close to 1,400 workplace safety violations. Each violation posed a risk of death or serious physical harm to workers. Ford Motor Company racked up almost three hundred serious OSHA violations between 1995 and 2000. But the government awarded them $442 million in federal business in those years. Today, on Labor Day, we will look at workplace safety and examine what the U.S. government is doing to protect workers. We'll talk with Lisa Cullen author of the new book A Job To Die For and investigative journalist Ken Silverstein who authored the Mother Jones article Unjust Rewards. Guest: Ken Silverstein, journalist and author of Unjust Rewards in May/June 2002 Mother Jones Contact:, Guest: Lisa Cullen, author of A Job to Die for: why so many Americans are killed, injured or made ill at work and what to do about it 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits

Date Recorded on: 
September 2, 2002
Date Broadcast on: 
September 2, 2002
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WPFW; Amy Goodman, host. September 2, 2002
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