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Worker Institute Blog

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The Worker Institute brings together researchers, educators and students with practitioners in labor, business and policymaking to address issues related to confronting systemic inequality and building a fair economy, robust democracy and just society. We will share opinion, analysis, research, data, insights and training from our faculty and staff.

Nellie Brown Co-Authors Site Evaluation Report on Wendt

Nellie Brown

On July 22nd, the Ironworkers Shopmen Local 576 finally achieved a contract, two years after the workers voted to join the union and after an NLRB decision that Wendt had violated federal labor law in its treatment of workers who had supported the push for the first labor contract. Wendt, which has a facility in Buffalo, is a family owned business that makes metal shredders.

The contract comes as a surprise. In February, after an NLRB judge ruled that Wendt had violated federal labor law, the company vowed to fight that ruling all the way to federal court.

Nellie Brown, MS, CIH, Director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs, for The Worker Institute, Cornell ILR School recently completed a plant walkaround and hazard evaluation of Wendt. With funding from the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH) funding, Nellie Brown and Rachel Terhart co-authored a site evaluation report. 

The report can be read on WNYCOSH's website with further information available in the report, Risky Business: Wendt Corporation Walkthrough Inspection & Safety Record Review. The report was used by the Ironworkers in their negotiations with Wendt. 

The report found patterns of lax safety planning, policies, and procedures in a very high risk industry. These included: questionable atmospheric conditions, pressure on workers to perform unsafe tasks placing production over safety, lack of guarding on machinery and equipment throughout the facility exposing workers to impact from flying debris, unsecured machinery and equipment throughout the facility, and explosion hazards, as well as others.

 

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