Labor and trade unions have a historical reputation of protecting employees in the workplace. During the period when working conditions were less than favorable in factories, labor unions fought for safer conditions on the job. Labor unions have also worked to secure fair wages and defend employees when wrongful termination occurs.
Labor Unions and Asbestos Exposure
Union officials and union members have also been instrumental in protecting employees from the dangers that can occur from asbestos exposure. Additionally, unions have helped many workers who were exposed to asbestos. They ensured that the injured workers were compensated for injuries related to asbestos exposure.
For a long time, labor unions have recognized the dangers related to asbestos. Many continued to fight for the unprotected workers’ rights even when their appeals were ignored. This happened even before the courts began to consider cases related to asbestos injuries.
Many labor unions were unsuccessful in fighting asbestos exposure issues half a century ago. Currently, some of the most powerful trade and labor unions in the country are reporting more success. They are making significant gains in fighting for compensation for workers who have become ill from mesothelioma and asbestosis. Additionally, international trade unions have joined the fight. They have begun issuing statements regarding the unfair compensation when workers have fallen ill or even died from exposure to asbestos.
Helping Members Who Developed Asbestos-Related Disease
Most unions are taking up the fight against the unfair legislation that perpetuates unsatisfactory asbestos compensation. Many of these unions, including the AFL-CIO, are joining forces to rally against asbestos trust funds. These government-proposed funds are backed by large corporations. Asbestos victims receive inadequate compensation from these poorly subsidized funds.
Union officials believe that the passage of legislation such as S. 852, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, does not consider what is best for an asbestos victim. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, believes that this act denies fair and timely compensation to the thousands of people who are victims of asbestos. The United Steelworkers and the International Brotherhood of Electricians have also voiced their concerns about this legislation.
Fighting against major asbestos legislation is just one way local union representatives can help asbestos victims. They can also assist these victims with roadblocks in insurance coverage. Any person who is a victim of asbestos and belongs to a trade union should contact his or her representative as soon as he or she is diagnosed.