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Sept. 3, 2021 by M. Isabelle Chaudry

This Labor Day, Let’s Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

Labor Day got its start in the late 19th Century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers make to America’s strength, prosperity, and wellbeing.

In addition to our usual picnics and barbeques, we should spend this day uplifting laborers who work in conditions in dire need of regulation — including those exposed to extreme heat or who work in hot environments.

Physical activity makes it difficult for the body to cool itself down, especially as temperatures and humidity rise. The effects can be dangerous, ranging from dizziness, nausea, cramps, exhaustion, and vomiting to faster heart rates and deadly heatstroke. Exposure to extreme heat can also exacerbate preexisting respiratory and heart conditions.

People who work in hot conditions are in special danger. Indeed, heat killed 815 workers on the job between 1992 and 2017 and seriously injured 70,000 more, according to federal records.

And yet: No federal standard protects workers from heat or heat stress.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for protecting laborers from workplace hazards. Yet it has not set a specific standard for workers in hot environments. 

The agency has ignored three CDC recommendations to identify a …

Aug. 2, 2021 by M. Isabelle Chaudry
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In February, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, reintroduced the FAIR Act. The legislation would protect workers and consumers by eliminating restrictive "forced arbitration" clauses in employment and consumer contracts. The bill would also allow consumers and workers to agree to arbitration after a dispute occurs if doing so is in their best interests. A companion measure has been introduced in the Senate.

Arbitration — a process where third parties resolve legal disputes out of court — is a standard precondition to most, if not all, nonunion employment and consumer contracts. It's considered "forced" because few consumers and workers are aware that they are agreeing to mandatory arbitration when they sign contracts. In most contracts, arbitration is imposed on a take-it-or-leave-it basis before any dispute even occurs; refusing to sign is rarely a realistic option because other sellers …

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More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Sept. 3, 2021

This Labor Day, Let’s Protect Workers from Extreme Heat

Aug. 2, 2021

To Protect Workers and Consumers, Congress Must End Forced Arbitration