April 1, 2009 The Pump Handle 4Comment

“The Cruelest Cuts,” the Charlotte Observer’s excellent series about “the human cost of bringing poultry to your table,” has won five journalism awards for the Observer.

Reporters Ames Alexander, Kerry Hall, Franco Ordo̱ez, Ted Mellnik, and Peter St. Onge undertook a 22-month investigation to get the story. They filed FOIA requests for hundreds of poultry-plant inspection files, and interviewed more than 200 current and former poultry workers. What they learned was that poultry-plant workers suffer high rates of crippling injuries, but companies cover up the problem Рand workers fear losing their jobs if they complain.

The paper has received a National Headliner award for investigative journalism; the Nieman Foundation Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers; the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award for Local Accountability Reporting; and Society of American Business Editors and Writers awards for project reporting and “creative use of online.” Congratulations to the Charlotte Observer’s award-winning team!

In other news:

Washington Post: As supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act continue trying to line up 60 votes in the Senate, some worker rights advocates are exploring alternative ways to reform labor laws.

Associated Press: An investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that the Department of Labor mishandled 9 out of 10 fake complaints about wage or hour violations.

New York Times: Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York has introduced a bill that would reopen the Victim Compensation Fund to Ground Zero workers who developed health problems after the original deadline for applying for compensation.

News-Journal (Florida): Florida lawmakers are considering requiring state and local government agencies to meet worker-safety standard from which they’re currently exempt.

Associated Press : A researcher who may have become infected with the Ebola virus via needlestick has received an experimental vaccine.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reports that the researcher has passed the virus’s 21-day incubation period without falling ill. Doctors don’t know whether it’s because she wasn’t ever infected or because the vaccine worked, but the research community is glad to know that she’s okay.

4 thoughts on “Occupational Health News Roundup

  1. Free Choice act without Arlen Specter is dead. Now they will have to make it different.

    Props to the reporters on the poultry plants. It was an eyeopener.

  2. Specter was someone many considered a freebie so thats why everyone is talking about him. There’s a major pool who the RNC has already said they plan on ousting even without letting EFCA goto a vote so afew might realize that their voting dynamic is changing and switch sides since they have nothing to lose.

    Great article by the Observer- anyone from there reading this post know how much they would charge for the documents(since chances are it’d be way cheaper than the original costs)?

  3. Liz, thanks for bringing attention to my (too few) colleagues who are still laboring to get solid health reporting done despite al the obstacles imposed in journalism’s way these days. That said, a quibble: While it is on the Strib site, credit for the Ebola vaccine story actually goes to Melissa Eddy and Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press.

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