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Union Leaders and Others Who Have Fought for Workers’ Rights

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Archive: May 2018

Union Leaders and Others Who Have Fought for Workers’ Rights

The history of workers’ rights in the United States is long and grueling. It deals with unionization, social reform, equal rights, and other fights that are still going on today. While thousands of people helped shape the labor laws and practices the U.S. now has in place, a few key players come to mind in particular. As an employer, business owner, or employee, you have the following Union leaders and other people to thank for your current rights and opportunities. Labor would look much different today were it not for their contributions.

Eugene V. Debs

Eugene “Gene” Debs helped found the American Railway Union in 1894. In 1877, at the age of just 22, Gene gave a speech at an annual Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen convention with the goal of defending the union from allegations that it encouraged lawlessness. Later known as the “Apostle of Industrial Unionism,” Gene inspired millions to push for the emancipation of the working class. He also helped found the Socialist Party of America in 1901 and ran for President of the U.S. on the Socialist Party five times. Gene helped with the nationwide adoption of more progressive economic reforms.

Joe Hill

Born in 1879 as “Joel Hägglund,” Joe Hill is famous for writing popular labor songs such as The Preacher and the Slave and Casey Jones­—A Union Scab. His songs appeared in the “Little Red Song Book” of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), of which Hill was a part. In 1911, Hill joined an army of wandering radicals who tried to overthrow the Mexican dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz in order to emancipate the working class. Hill ultimately became a martyr who was more famous in death than life after his execution for a murder conviction. Today’s workers have Hill to thank for his role in worker rallies, picket lines, and in writing labor songs.

Mother Jones

A U.S. district attorney once referred to Mary Harris “Mother” Jones as “the most dangerous woman in America.” Known for her aggressive oratory and passionate fight for workers’ rights, Mother Jones was the organizer for the Mine Workers in the early 1900s. She inspired men and women alike to fight for workers’ rights through her fiery speeches and willingness to break the rules to get results. She welcomed African-American workers and encouraged women and children to join strikes – two actions that were unique in that time period. Her efforts on behalf of miners’ rights helped to create child labor laws and other important labor statutes.

William Green

William Green served as the President of the American Federation of Labor from 1924 to 1952. Green fought for worker wage and benefit protections, industrial unionism, and labor-management cooperation. He continued the AFL’s mission of achieving social reform unionism, started initially by AFL’s first and longest-running president, Samuel Gompers. Under Green’s rule, the AFL shifted to a more cooperative strategy, supporting legislation that would benefit all workers. Green was crucial in the passing of a 1932 act that limited the use of injunctions in labor disputes and eliminated employment contracts that forbade workers to join unions.

Nelson Cruikshank

In 1955, Nelson Cruikshank became the first director of the AFL-CIO Department of Social Security. Cruikshank’s most notable achievements deal with Social Security and health insurance reform, namely for vulnerable people such as the elderly and disabled. Congress passed the Social Security Disability Insurance amendment in 1956 largely because of Cruikshank’s lobbying efforts. This law gave SS benefits to disabled persons for the first time in America. He also acted as the chief creator of the federal Medicare program, which passed in 1965.

César Chávez

César Chávez was an American farmer who created a campaign for better working conditions for grape pickers in California. In 1962, he led a grape boycott and pickers’ strike that led to two of the largest grape growers in Delano agreeing to better workplace conditions. Chávez created a farm worker union (the National Farm Workers Association), fought for minimum wage for farm workers, encouraged the passing of a farm labor law for migrant workers, and achieved many other victories that shaped the rights farm workers have today.

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Do Workers with HIV Get Compensation?

The California workers’ compensation system provides benefits to all employees who suffer injuries or illnesses on the job. When it comes to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), however, workers may have a harder time recovering compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, disabilities, and other damages. Here’s a look at occupationally-acquired HIV and the battles employees might face when trying to obtain workers’ compensation or personal injury claim benefits in California.

If you’re looking for information on a specific case or instance, contact a workers compensation attorney in Orange County now.

HIV in an Occupational Setting

HIV is an incurable virus that takes over cells in the body’s immune system. HIV forces cells to produce copies of viruses, which then infect other cells. People who are HIV positive therefore have weaker immune systems and a harder time staying healthy. HIV can infect new hosts by getting inside the blood cells. HIV can spread if the HIV-positive blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids, or semen of one person enters the body of another person. Certain occupations, such as those in the medical or adult film industry, are at risk of contracting HIV on the job.

A nurse may contract HIV from a positive patient if he or she accidentally sticks him/herself with the same needle used on the patient. The issue of occupationally-acquired HIV and workers’ compensation for nurses has been a topic of conversation for years – from a Health Law and Ethics article published in 1997 to the case of one nurse, Elsa Roberts, who filed a claim after an HIV scare on the job in 2015. Although Roberts did not in fact contract HIV, she filed claims for her emotional distress and lost wages from missed time at work.

Cases have also arisen in which adult film performers filed workers’ compensation claims for allegedly contracting HIV during video shoots. Filming pornographic videos without condoms or other forms of protection could result in spreading HIV from one performer to others. Spokespeople for this issue claim that studios in the industry punish performers for trying to protect themselves by using condoms. Now, these performers must pay a lifelong price for the negligence of the studio – perhaps without financial compensation.

Does the California Workers’ Comp System Cover HIV?

What rights do workers have after contracting HIV while performing job-related duties? In California, the workers’ compensation system does in fact name HIV on the list of conditions that make applicants eligible for up to 240 weeks of temporary total disability payments. Workers who contract HIV could be eligible for two-thirds of their average weekly wages (up to the state-mandated maximum) for up to 240 weeks. They may also qualify for additional compensation payments, including coverage for medical expenses.

If you contracted HIV while on the job, file a workers’ compensation claim just as you would for any other injury, illness, or condition in California. First, report the incident to your employer or supervisor. Then, seek medical attention to verify whether or not you contracted HIV. Keep copies of your report, medical records, missed time at work, bills, and other things relating to your claim. Have your employer file the proper injury report with its workers’ compensation insurance company. Then, contact a  workers’ compensation lawyer for assistance.

An attorney can help you with the claims filing process, as well as go up against your employer or its insurance company should you receive a denial of your claim. Whether you actually contracted HIV or wish to recover losses from emotional distress stemming from a scare through a personal injury lawsuit, a lawyer can assist you. A lawyer can also help if you become the victim of workplace discrimination because of your status as an HIV positive individual. People with HIV have worker rights in the state of California. Learn more by contacting the personal injury lawyers at DiMarco | Araujo | Montevideo today.

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Route 91 Country Music Festival Shooting

Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting site, Las Vegas Village and Festival Grounds, Las Vegas Strip, Nevada

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States, the investigation into the October 1, 2017 Route 91 Harvest music festival tragedy has yet to bring closure to the tens of thousands of victims who are still grieving the effects of that night.  The victims of this shooting were from all over the country, with many of the concertgoers coming from California and Nevada.  Over 22,000 people were subjected to more than 1,000 rounds of bullets and ensuing chaos that surrounded this event.  Simply because the investigation is ongoing does not mean justice cannot be found for the victims and their families.

 

Many of the victims put their lives and safety into the hands of multiple companies while attending the Route 91 Harvest concert, including MGM Resorts International, Mandalay Bay Corp., MGM Resort Group, Inc., MGM Resorts Festival Grounds, LLC, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., and Live Nation Group.  In the months since the shooting, the following facts have been released that show the fault of these companies:

 

  • The hotel permitted the shooter to check into a hotel room that was under another person’s name without the named person appearing at the hotel;
  • The hotel failed to recognize that the door to the stairwell at the 32nd floor was locked with a bracket by the shooter;
  • Security at the hotel delayed their investigation into a door alarm on the 32nd floor that went off more than an hour before the shooting, which would have uncovered the bracketed door to the stairwell;
  • A security failure at the hotel permitted the shooter to bring in high-powered assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition into his room, at times with the help of the hotel staff, when other hotels in Las Vegas have invested in security features before October 1, 2017 to detect such items;
  • The hotel failed to discover the barrage of weapons in the hotel room or report the suspicious behavior of the shooter when he asked to remain in the room while the staff cleaned and instructed them not to vacuum the floor on multiple days before the shooting;
  • The shooter installed surveillance equipment outside of his hotel rooms without detection by requesting a room service cart remain in his room, which was later used outside his door to mount a camera;
  • Due to his “VIP” status, the shooter was permitted to use the service elevator to bring his deadly arsenal to his room instead of normal lobby elevators;
  • The lack of the timely response and misinformation by the hotel lead to a delay in reaching the shooter’s room;
  • Inadequately trained or competent staff both in the hotel and at the concert venue to respond to the shooting and provide safety instructions to the victims; and
  • Insufficient signage demarcating exits and entrances at the concert grounds.

 

For years and in the wake of other mass casualty events, government entities and the casino industry have warned large hotels and casinos, including MGM Resorts International and Mandalay Bay, that they must be prepared for life-threatening events, including an active shooter.  The way for victims to claim compensation for their injuries is to prove that the events were foreseeable to these companies, and unfortunately in today, acts such as this shooting are not uncommon, especially near large crowds.  With this evidence, we believe that these companies may be responsible for the injuries to the Route 91 Harvest victims.

 

Not just direct shooting victims may be entitled to recover for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and other compensation for injuries suffered at the Route 91 Harvest concert.  Other victims include those who suffered injuries while escaping the festival grounds, such as trampling injuries, ankle sprains, or broken bones.  In addition, those suffering from post-traumatic stress or emotional distress may also be entitled to bring a claim against these companies.  Nevada law allows victims with injuries of emotional distress without physical injury to bring lawsuits under certain circumstances.

 

The actions of these companies placed profits above safety, leaving many lives in the wake of this shooting to be searching for answers, comfort, and justice.  If you or a family member were injured at the Route 91 Harvest festival and have questions about what we are doing to help victims or whether you may have a legal claim, please contact DiMarco, Araujo & Montevideo to speak to our team to get answers to your questions.

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Immigration Reform and Workers’ Compensation

It is a tumultuous time for immigrants and immigration rights, both in California and throughout the country. One pressing question surrounding immigration reform is, “How will it impact workers’ compensation?” As an immigrant working in California, you need to know the details of the current and potential future laws to protect your rights. Work with an attorney for more in-depth information. In the meantime, here’s an overview of what you need to know.

Immigrant Worker Protections in California

Estimates place the number of undocumented immigrants in California at around 2.6 million. Undocumented immigrants make up approximately 10% of the state’s workforce. In the past, California courtrooms have ruled that undocumented immigrants are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of their immigration status. New, stricter immigration laws and California’s status as a sanctuary state, however, can make workers’ compensation issues even more complicated.

California has laws that protect immigrant workers’ rights, outlined by the state Department of Industrial Relations. These laws give all workers rights to benefits in case of injuries on the job, regardless of legal status or where the worker was born. Once an employer hires the worker, the worker immediately has the right to workers’ compensation, meal breaks, minimum wages, overtime pay, and other benefits. It does not matter whether or not the worker is a legal citizen. The employer has the duty to provide workers’ compensation and benefits for medical care after work-related injury or illness.

California’s Stance as a Sanctuary State

Statewide immigrant worker rights and laws can help employees feel more confident in filing workers’ compensation claims. Unfortunately, filing a claim could still spell trouble for undocumented workers. Claiming workers’ compensation benefits using a false identity could put the immigration status of a worker at risk – resulting in felony fraud charges and possible deportation. Cases from other states, including Florida and Massachusetts, have arisen in which ICE detained injured immigrant workers after they submitted their claims.

California is unique in that is has taken a stance against the Trump administration’s policies on undocumented immigrants. The state’s Sanctuary State law (Senate Bill 54) legalizes statewide non-cooperation policies, in which California law enforcement officers do not have to comply with federal immigration measures or authorities. The bill prohibits state law enforcement from detaining illegal aliens on the basis of federal laws (unless convicted of certain crimes). It also prohibits officers from asking people about their immigration status and from sharing information with federal immigration services.

Thanks to California’s Sanctuary State Law, employers cannot report undocumented employees to federal ICE officers unless federal law requires that they do so. Employers also cannot permit ICE agents to enter private areas or to access employee records without a warrant or subpoena. Violating these rules could result in a $10,000 fine for employers. These rules give undocumented immigrants a certain degree of safety when filing workers’ compensation claims.

Problems Undocumented Immigrants Still Face

Despite California’s unique protections for injured undocumented immigrants, these workers may face a new kind of threat – surprise raids by ICE. ICE has been conducting raids of workplaces in California suspected of employing undocumented immigrants, including 7-Eleven stores and companies in Northern California. The federal government has initiated the raids in response to the state’s Sanctuary State law.

Get help from a trusted personal injury attorney if you need to file a workers’ compensation claim as an undocumented immigrant in California. An attorney is legally bound to act in your best interests. A lawyer can assist you with your claim, teach you your rights under workers’ compensation statutes, and help you go up against unlawful immigrant reporting or discrimination. You have the right to workers’ compensation as an immigrant. Exercise this right with an attorney’s help.

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