COLUMN: The End of Fair Labor

by Marilyn Howells
What's the significance for attending the rally at Mildred-Mitchell Bateman Hospital?   Forced mandated 16 hours days or be fired. This is a blatant example of dangerous mistreatment of workers.   It's been reported workers at forced to work 16 hours, get only  8 hours off (to drive home, eat , sleep, bath and drive back, so they're not getting  8 hours sleep), and do it all over again the next day. This is routine. The schedule is reportedly  made with people  scheduled for 16 hours, so it's not  occasional unplanned shortage. Also they're called in on days off. This is mandatory and they can be  fired if refuse overtime.
   While most of us have or would work an 8, 10, or 12 hour day if needed, and even 16 hours in an emergency,  chronic long tem understaffing and multiple 16 hour days is both dangerous an avoidable.   If this  can be done to these  workers, they can do this to those that work at any agency.  If they get away with this, will it will spread to other agencies and  schools, etc.?  All need to draw a line in the sand on this issue and a lot of other issues. Workers everywhere are losing their rights, wage and labor protections and their health benefits in large  chunks.   Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it's tolling for all workers, public and private sector too, and all patients and consumers. Though apparently government employees don't have the same fair labor protections as private sector, can it be long until laws and protections are repealed under corporate lobbyists' pressures, and all workers risk facing such conditions and a return to the sweat shops of old. How long until the standard work week then becomes  48 or 56 hours before overtime, and overtime is figured at only 1 1/4 pay.     Do we then sue the state who "mandated this overtime," when we're hit by a sleep deprived worker driving home after a couple of days  of 16 hour shifts? And what of the patients? If and when  forced 16 hour shifts become the norm for private sector workers, will health care also suffer and we be  victim to more medical mistakes,  or customer safety problems  in many industries too due to exhausted slaves and serfs, - a workers. Will  workers become venerable to expensive diseases, even cancer,  as their resistance is endangered by exhaustion.   All this overtime costs taxpayers more than adequate staffing. There are people who need jobs, who could  fill these positions for regular pay, not overtime.
 
It is well known that at times in the recent past that many state agencies have been chronically understaffed with unfilled positions, under the Manchin administration. The problems with understaffing at the state hospitals existed then and also now under Tomblim, so really are  they (both Demcrates) not responsible for understaffing? Worse yet, some Republicans want  to  abolish the minimum wage, and have people work for less than even $7 an hour. So we should all find other primary candidates for all parties.    Make no mistake, when we look at MMBH we see the future for  other agencies, and the private sector. The current understaffing at Huntington City Police and Fire, with all that overtime is another example. Understaffing, costs over runs for overtime - could they be an effort to undermine the agencies and make them look less efficient, through no fault of their own, to set the stage to privatize, so some middle man can make money, and cost the taxpayers even more in the long run? 
  Issues:
1. Forced mandatory overtime

2. Understaffing
3. Safety concerns
4. PEIA health insurance losses and planned future losses 5. Lack of  and Inadequate Fair Wage and Labor Protections for alll
6. Am I correct. Are government workers no covered by OSHA? Are these people not worthy of the same portections others have? Are they no equal.
7. Erosion of health benefits
8. Low Pay
9. Pension protection
10. Better service  and cheaper service to the public/taxpayers by having adequate staffing, thus limiting overtime.
11. Collective bargaining rights to prevent such abusses as repeated multiple dangerous 16 hour days
12. Privatization costs mor , as some middle man /CEO/ cooperation makes a big profit at worker and taxpayer expense.
13. Draw attention to those politicians who cause and contribute to these problems
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