Legal

Category archives for Legal

Earlier this month, Florida lawmakers wrapped up their latest legislative session. And nearly 500 miles south of Tallahassee in Miami-Dade County, workers’ rights advocates breathed yet another sigh of relief.

Another day, another study that shows investing in public health interventions can make a serious dent in health care spending. A new study has found that banning smoking in all U.S. subsidized housing could yield cost savings of about $521 million every year.

Eric Rodriguez and his colleagues at the Latino Union of Chicago quite literally meet workers where they’re at — on the city’s street corners. Many of the day laborers who gather there are hired to work construction at residential housing sites. Work arrangements are hardly formal and day laborers are frequently subjected to unnecessary and illegal dangers on the job. Unfortunately, worker safety is often kicked to the curb in the street corner marketplace.

For Angel Nava, Chicago’s newly adopted wage theft ordinance is particularly personal. Until recently, Nava had worked at the same car wash business in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood for 14 years. The 55-year-old employee did it all — washing, detailing, buffing — for about 50 hours each week. Then, his boss decided to stop paying overtime.

In California, a minimum wage worker has to work at least 98 hours in a week to afford a two-bedroom unit at fair market rental prices. In Texas, that worker would have to work between 81 and 97 hours in a week, and in North Carolina it’s upward of 80 hours per week.

A new study finds that the public does, indeed, support legal interventions aimed at curbing noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, they’re more likely to support interventions that create the conditions that help people make the healthy choice on their own.

Texas construction workers who’ve lost their lives on unsafe worksites may be gone, but they certainly haven’t been forgotten. Earlier this week, hundreds of Texas workers and their supporters took to the streets to demand legislators do more to stop preventable injury and death on the job.

For many migrant farmworkers, the health risks don’t stop at the end of the workday. After long, arduous hours in the field, many will return to a home that also poses dangers to their well-being. And quite ironically for a group of workers that harvests our nation’s food, one of those housing risks is poor cooking and eating facilities.

A couple years ago, two public health researchers attended a hearing about the possible expansion of an industrial food animal production facility. During the hearing, a community member stood up to say that if the expansion posed any hazards, the health department would surely be there to protect the people. The two researchers knew that probably wasn’t the case.

Texas may boast a booming construction sector, but a deeper look reveals an industry filled with wage theft, payroll fraud, frighteningly lax safety standards, and preventable injury and death. In reality, worker advocates say such conditions are far from the exception — instead, they’ve become the norm.