Sunday, August 24, 2003

Hotel Workers Suffer From Workplace Hazards

A US study has shown strong connections between working conditions and the health of Las Vegas hotel room cleaners.
A study of 941 workers found that ergonomic problems, increasing workloads, and time pressure were significant causes of work-related pain and injury. Overall stress levels also contributed to pain and injury, as well as increased levels of smoking among workers.

Over 60% of workers reported severe back pain, and 45% had been injured at work in the last year. But nearly half of these injuries went unreported to workers' compensation bodies, with many workers using their own leave for time off work after injury. (Source: Worksafe)
The information in this article is important and ironic considering that on March 9, 2003, John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, was quoted in the New York Times as saying that
"the A.F.L.-C.I.O. was spread too thin and should devote more of its money and energy to organizing. Mr. Wilhelm said he would even consider ideas like eliminating the federation's respected health and safety department to channel more money into organizing.

"My view is that if we don't devote the largest possible amount of money to organizing and to political action that relates to organizing, we will go out of business," he said. "And if we go out of business, we can't help anybody's health and safety."
Yeah, but on the other hand, if unions don't focus on workers' health and safety, they may have less reason to organize. And unless workers see political action as affecting their lives, why get involved? You can find more on this debate here.

The full Executive Summary of the report can be found here.