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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

MN Warehouse Workers: Unsafe at Any Speed?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023   

Consumer demand for delivery companies like Amazon is not going away. But some people in Minnesota want more protections for workers filling orders on tight deadlines. The National Employment Law Project has reported the injury rate for Amazon warehouse workers in Minnesota is nearly two times greater than those working at similar facilities for other industries.

Khali Jama, an Amazon Fulfilment Center employee recently testified before a Minnesota House committee of a demanding environment that gives employees little room to work at a safe pace.

"Most of the injuries come from the speed - if you're not on a certain speed, the manager will come and talk to you. If you're still not on that speed that they want you to be, they'll come and talk to the second time," Jama said. "The third time you get [a] write-up and you're fired through an app."

Jama added English is not the primary language for many workers who may not be aware of their rights. The committee passed a bill setting safety requirements for warehouses, including preventing production quotas that interfere with meal and bathroom breaks. Over the past year, Amazon has acknowledged these concerns but insists most workers express satisfaction with jobs that offer competitive starting pay and health benefits.

Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, said it's clear Amazon is not doing enough to protect its warehouse employees, but questioned whether legislation is needed.

"It's been over a year now since we've heard this bill," McDonald said. "The same concerns from those who are treated not very respectfully at one particular company when this particular bill could really affect hundreds of companies that are treating their employees like human beings."

He suggested a current law still allows key agencies to crack down on violators. But bill sponsors have said OSHA standards dealing with specific industries have not been updated in 15 years. They added the bill would give the Department of Labor Industry power to investigate violators. Scrutiny would center on warehouses that have an injury rate 30% higher than the industry average.


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