Lichterman, Joan


Will UCLA And a Professor Be Punished For Causing the Death Of a Lab Tech, Or Is UC Above The Law?

By Joan Lichterman
UPTE-CWA 9119

UC attorneys and spinmeisters are working overtime to defend the regents, UCLA, and a UCLA chemistry professor in Superior Court against felony charges for willfully violating workplace health and safety standards resulting in the death of a 23-year-old lab assistant. The arraignment is scheduled for Thursday, February 2, and safety advocates fear that a plea bargain will be entered at that time with an inappropriate sentence.

Cuts to Cal/OSHA Jeapordize Workplace Health and Safety

By Joan Lichterman
UPTE-CWA 9119

At the Cal/OSHA Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday, November 3rd, Chief Ellen Widess announced that the Division has been authorized to hire new staff (other sources indicate that 43 is the number to be hired.) Later in the day, she learned that the state Department of General Services (DGS) plans to eliminate more state cars that Cal/OSHA inspectors and consultants use to conduct worksite safety inspections, investigate accidents and enforce health and safety laws. This appears to be the latest move in Gov. Jerry Brown's efforts to cut Cal/OSHA resources in order to "show cost savings" for an agency that costs the state nothing. Political optics rule the day.

In the last three years, Cal/OSHA has lost cell phones, office space, and at least 50 cars, and now the DGS wants to take another 85 -- from an agency that draws exactly ZERO General Fund/ state budget money. Cal/OSHA's expenses are paid by federal OSHA and a workers' comp employer surcharge.

100 Years Later, Lessons from the Triangle Fire Still Ring True

By Joan Lichterman
UPTE-CWA 9119

Friday marked the 100th anniversary of one of the worst preventable workplace tragedies in U.S. history- the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire. On March 25, 1911, some 146 workers — mostly immigrant women and girls as young as 14 — perished when a fire broke out in the New York City sweatshop. Because managers had locked a critical exit, many workers were trapped inside as they sought to flee the fire. Others jumped to their deaths as horrified onlookers watched.

This shameful event strengthened the garment workers union and galvanized social movements and reform. Many of the workplace standards and protections that we now take for granted rose from the ashes of that fire.