On April 27, more than 150 people are expected to attend a conference, "Immigrant Labor at Risk Occupational Hazards: Old Problems, New Possibilities," sponsored by a coalition of community, educational and labor organizations.
Speakers at the conference, which will be at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law in Flushing, Queens, will include the head of the New York City Central Labor Council, the chair of the State Assembly Labor Committee, the head of the state's largest occupational medicine clinic, doctors who provided free medical examinations to hundreds of immigrant workers who became ill after doing cleanup work in the vicinity of the World Trade Center, and the heads of major immigrant organizing and labor safety and health organizations.
"There are many signs that our society is failing immigrant workers when it comes to safety and health protections," said New York City Central Labor Council President Brian McLaughlin, who will address the conference at 9:15 a.m. "We can see it in the headlines about scaffold and building collapses, we can see it in the finding that so many lower Manhattan cleanup workers are sick, and we can see it in the statistics. We must do something to reverse this trend, and I see this conference as an important step in that direction."
The conference is sponsored by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) and Workers' Employment Law Program at CUNY Law School in collaboration with the CUNY Coalition for Labor & Economic Justice, the City Central Labor Council, the New York State AFL-CIO and the New York Immigration Coalition.
The conference agenda includes the presentation of two medical studies. One is by Dr. Robin Herbert of Mt. Sinai, who will present "Overcoming Barriers to Workplace Safety and Health for Low-wage Immigrant Women in Queens." The Queens College-based Center for the Biology of Natural Systems, which with NYCOSH operated the famed "medical van" at Ground Zero, will report the results of tests performed on area workers.
There will be a panel discussion of various models of organizing around occupational safety and health issues, a discussion of the role of OSHA at the WTC site and workshops aimed at developing a plan of action to use the occupational health and safety laws, regulations and practices to help immigrant workers organize and protect themselves.
The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
A complete conference agenda can be viewed on the Internet at www.nycosh.org/immigrant-worker-osh-conf.html.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])