Koch Brothers Won’t Get the LA Times; People of Color Feel Less Safe at Work

Mike Elk

To labor's relief, the Los Angeles Times building in downtown LA won't be under Koch ownership any time soon.

The Koch Broth­ers no longer are inter­est­ed in buy­ing the Los Ange­les Times and its par­ent com­pa­ny, the Tri­bune Com­pa­ny. Their drop­ping of their bid is a vic­to­ry for unions that fought it, con­cerned that the Koch’s anti-labor stance would inform Tri­bune-owned papers from the Chica­go Tri­bune to the Bal­ti­more Sun. From the AFL-CIO Now Blog:

For months, the Cal­i­for­nia Labor Fed­er­a­tion, media watch­dogs and pro­gres­sive groups have raised seri­ous con­cerns about the effect of hand­ing con­trol of major news out­lets over to the Kochs. The Kochs’ inter­est in the Tri­bune Co. was no doubt fueled by a desire to fur­ther their anti-work­er, anti-envi­ron­ment agen­da by using those media out­lets as a mega­phone for their extreme ideas.

A new study shows that employed work­ers are twice as like­ly to get on a kid­ney trans­plant list than unem­ployed work­ers — regard­less of whether the unem­ployed work­ers have insur­ance. From the Nation­al Jour­nal:

In a sur­vey of 429,409 patients with end-stage renal dis­ease, those who had jobs were 2.24 times more like­ly to be placed on a wait­ing list for a kid­ney trans­plant. Once placed on a list, the employed full-time were 1.65 times more like­ly to receive the trans­plant. And hav­ing insur­ance did­n’t help the unem­ployed in this case either. When the researchers ran the num­bers on those unem­ployed who had insur­ance, they found the results to be essen­tial­ly the same and still significant.”

And if all of that isn’t down­er enough for you, con­sid­er this: The unem­ployed are much, much more like­ly to be in need of a kid­ney trans­plant. A 10-year study found unem­ploy­ment affects up to 75 per­cent of inci­dent ESRD [end-stage renal dis­ease] patients,” and this rate increas­es with time on dialysis.”

This week, the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics announced that work­place deaths fell by 7 per­cent over­all in 2012, but rose in the con­struc­tion and gas and indus­try sec­tion. From the Wall Street Jour­nal:

Fatal injuries in pri­vate-sec­tor con­struc­tion rose 5% to 775 in 2012 from 738 in 2011, even though the total hours worked in the indus­try rose just 1%, accord­ing to the pre­lim­i­nary results from the Cen­sus of Fatal Occu­pa­tion­al Injuries issued by the Labor Depart­men­t’s Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics. Before the 2012 increase, fatal­i­ties in pri­vate-sec­tor con­struc­tion had declined for five con­sec­u­tive years, and over­all are still down 37% since 2006.

In 2012, fatal injuries in the oil and gas extrac­tion indus­tries rose 23% to a record 138.

The increas­es occurred against a more-encour­ag­ing back­drop. Over­all, fatal work-relat­ed injuries fell to 4,383 last year from a revised count of 4,693 in 2011, and the rate declined to 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equiv­a­lent work­ers from 3.5 in 2011.

An inter­est­ing new sur­vey shows that peo­ple of col­or feel much less safe on the job than white peo­ple. From the Nation­al Jour­nal:

Non­white work­ers are much less like­ly to feel phys­i­cal­ly safe at their jobs than white work­ers, and they are less like­ly to feel appre­ci­at­ed for their accom­plish­ments. Gallup notes that they did­n’t find sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences in the type of work the respon­dents did, and that it is not imme­di­ate­ly clear” why non­white work­ers would feel dif­fer­ent­ly on safe­ty or recognition.

But, at least in terms of phys­i­cal safe­ty, some handy gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics help explain the dif­fer­ence. Non­white work­ers have a sim­i­lar per-work­er rate of fatal occu­pa­tion­al injuries to white work­ers, accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics. In 2010, the rate for black or African-Amer­i­can work­ers was actu­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er than it was for white or His­pan­ic work­ers. But, accord­ing to the Labor Depart­ment, black and African-Amer­i­can work­ers do face a high­er num­ber of non­fa­tal injuries and ill­ness­es. That’s large­ly due to work­ing in jobs with high­er injury rates. In 2010, despite an over­all decrease in the num­ber of injuries and ill­ness­es for the group, black and African-Amer­i­can work­ers still made up 12 per­cent of all pri­vate sec­tor non­fa­tal injuries and ill­ness­es that involved days away from work.

For Lati­no work­ers, wor­ries about phys­i­cal safe­ty are also born out by the num­bers. While fatal work injuries decreased in 2010 by 10.2 per­cent for native-born Lati­no work­ers, it dropped by less than 1 per­cent for for­eign-born Lati­nos. Accord­ing to the Labor Depart­ment, fatal injuries for for­eign-born Lati­no work­ers account­ed for 17 per­cent of the total in 2010. In 2011, His­pan­ic or Lati­no work­ers account­ed for 11 per­cent of total non­fa­tal occu­pa­tion­al injuries.

In These Times con­tribut­ing Edi­tor Mic­ah Uet­richt has a piece this week on the effects of school clos­ings on Chica­go. From Al Jazeera Amer­i­ca:

In May, the city decid­ed to shut­ter 50 schools it said were under­uti­lized” as part of an effort to close an esti­mat­ed $1 bil­lion deficit. A month lat­er, the school sys­tem rolled out a new way to pay for edu­ca­tion, shift­ing to a per pupil” for­mu­la instead of block amounts of money.

The result: 3,168 lay­offs, includ­ing about 1,700 teach­ing posi­tions — 7 per­cent of the dis­tric­t’s teach­ing staff — and huge bud­get cuts at schools of all types, includ­ing high-per­form­ing mag­net schools. The cuts, which the city says total $68 mil­lion at the class­room lev­el, capped a tur­bu­lent year that began with last Sep­tem­ber’s teach­ers’ strike.

Par­ent activists and some teach­ers say the com­bi­na­tion of lay­offs, cuts and clo­sures will result in a chaot­ic and resource-starved school sys­tem come Aug. 26.

It’s going to be a dis­as­ter,” said Robinson.

Mike Elk wrote for In These Times and its labor blog, Work­ing In These Times, from 2010 to 2014. He is cur­rent­ly a labor reporter at Politico.
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