Posted May 7, 2013
Answer: workers who are employed by private companies through federal contracts, concessions and leases. Yet, while employers reap billions of dollars in profits from taxpayers every year, they are paid such low wages that they're unable to afford basic needs such as food, clothing, and even rent.
Posted May 6, 2013
Some of the nation's best-loved cartoonists are calling on Congress not to back down on enacting commonsense gun laws.
Posted May 2, 2013
ITT's Mike Elk joins Current TV’s John Fugelsang to share his perspective on whether protests following a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh will lead to safer working conditions and whether American workers face similar dangers. “In Bangladesh there is a lot of outrage about what has happened,” Elk says. “They went and they arrested the head of the factory and he’s going to face criminal charges over this so I do think that there might be some movement for change.” Elk cites the recent fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, as an example of why Americans should be concerned about working conditions closer to home: “This fire was preventable, but there were not the proper safety measures … I do think things like this happen in this country but on a much smaller scale.”
Posted April 29, 2013
ITT's Mike Elk discusses the cause of the West, TX industrial accident, the weak government oversight of the plant, and President Obama's missed opportunity to raise awareness around the need for increase health and safety regulations on MSNBC.
Posted April 19, 2013
In These Times Staff Writer Mike Elk talks with Chris Hayes and Celeste Monforton, former policy analyst for OSHA, about how proper regulation would keep more Americans safe at work in the wake of the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
Posted April 18, 2013
Today, In These Times labor reporter Mike Elk appeared on Democracy Now discussing how the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion is symptomatic of an inadequate workplace safety regulatory structure that leads to the deaths of 4,500 Americans every year on the job. Despite there being over 8 million workplaces in the United States, the US only has 2,200 OSHA inspectors. OSHA on average could inspect a facility like the West, Texas fertilizer plant once only every 129 years. Indeed, according to OSHA records, the West, Texas plant had not been inspected by OSHA in the last 5 years.
Despite the dangers posed by the plant evident in the explosion, in 2006 the company told the EPA that the plant posed no risk of explosion. As Tom O'Connor, Executive Director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health told In These Times earlier today, "It looks like in the plant's application for a permit, it checked 'no' in the box asking whether it was a fire or explosion hazard." At a minimum, someone at the EPA ought to be looking a little more carefully at these permits to verify their accuracy. Any plant with a large volume of explosive chemicals is clearly a fire/explosion hazard.
Posted April 15, 2013
Days before this anti-Exxon spoof ad was set to run on ABC, NBC and Fox News affiliate stations in Arkansas, the Texas-based oil company threatened legal action and the ad was pulled, reported the Institute for Southern Studies on Thursday. Fortunately, we have the Internet--the video is available on YouTube.
Thanks to the Internet, you can also read the cease and desist memo [PDF] written by ExxonMobil lawyers, which is just as funny as the spoof. The memo challenges the "numerous inaccuracies" of the ad. For instance, "Here at Exxon we hate your children," is accompanied by pages of proof that the assertion "cannot be substantiated."
Bogged down in a controversy over the recent oil spill in Arkansas where reporters have been threatened with arrest for entering the contamination zone, Exxon, it seems, just wants to stick to the facts.
Posted April 11, 2013
Matt Farmer spins some rhymes about Chicago school closings. Guess who he calls a "progressive poseur / walkin' bulldozer / union bustin' / grade school closer"?
Posted April 10, 2013
A just-announced settlement from the U.S. Treasury Department is meant to compensate homeowners who faced wrongful foreclosure during the housing crisis. But the payout to these homeowners—many of whom had their homes taken without having ever missed a payment—amounts to paltry sums, generally $300-$500 per family. Activist Alexis Goldstein created a Tumblr of tongue-in-cheek suggestions for how homeowners can use these funds: For Having My House Stolen. Here, she talks about the site with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.
Posted April 8, 2013
An ode to the Iron Lady from Morrissey's 1988 debut solo album Viva Hate. British police under Thatcher responded to the pop song in predictable fashion, by searching the singer's home and carrying out an official investigation.
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