States with strong unions are states with safer workers

Another reason why we want strong unions in Oregon: Workplace fatalities are dramatically higher in states with anti-union laws.

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In states with strong unions, the standard of living for all workers, not just union members, is raised. And those improved standards aren’t just limited to wages and benefits: States with strong unions also have safer workplaces.

Working in dangerous places can lead to injury, illness and even death. This is especially true when corporate profits are put above workers’ wellbeing. To foster safe workplaces, unions invest significant resources in safety trainings and encourage workers to negotiate for appropriate staffing levels and equipment.

Highly trained workers are not only safe from the potential dangers that their jobs might bring, but they’re also attractive to business owners. The New York Times points out that rather than take advantage of cheap labor costs, contractors see the benefits of employing trained and certified workers.

“It’s a business bottom-­line issue… (anti-worker laws) compromise my quality, my competitiveness. The unions are my partner. They’re almost like a screening agency.”
– Bill Kennedy, president of Rock Road Companies, WI

Most importantly, when workers can successfully advocate for safer working conditions, fewer people die on the job. Research has shown that workplace fatalities are significantly lower in states where more workers are unionized.

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How does Oregon compare to our neighboring anti-worker state? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal occupational injuries are nearly twice as likely to occur in Idaho as they are in Oregon.
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Bottom line — a worker’s life is more important than a corporation’s profits.