2018 in Union News
CSUEU is excited to announce the formation of a new committee dedicated to improving the health and safety of our member's work environments. The CSUEU Health And Safety Committee is being spearheaded by Gina Voight. President of Chapter 304 in Sonoma. We sat down and spoke with Gina about why she started this Committee and what she wants to achieve with it.
CSUEU E-News: When was the CSUEU Health and Safety Committee formed?
Gina Voight: The Health and safety committee was proposed and accepted at the CSUEU Board of Directors Meeting in early March of this year, so it is still just getting up and running. This committee will be made up of members from several different campuses that can help out on their campus and lend help to other campuses in close range. Each representative will assist members in assessing and addressing worksite issues, and working with Cal/OSHA to remedy any issues on each campus they are assigned to.
CSUEU E-News: What need prompted the formation of this committee?
Gina Voight: The Health and Safety Committee was formed in order to respond to the health and safety needs of our members. There is a long history of covering up health and safety issues. Many of the Environmental Health and Safety departments on the CSU campuses are underfunded and understaffed. This leads to proper testing being skipped many times. Without shining a light on unsafe working conditions, things will not change. In some ways I think of this committee as the sunshine committee. We are shining a light on issues that have been swept under the rug for too long.
CSUEU E-News: Why start this committee now?
Gina Voight: I have been very involved in environmental health and safety issues on my campus through my union role for several years. When I found out that the former Manager of Environmental Health and Safety at the Chancellor's Office had filed a lawsuit, which contained details about many of the health and safety violations he had noted at all of the CSU campuses while in his position, I knew now was the time to take this fight state wide. With that information we can start to work on remedying the problems that have been ignored for far too long.
CSUEU E-News: How will this committee help our members?
Gina Voight: The Health and Safety Committee will help members by creating a cohesive team of people in our union who can reach out to our members, Environmental Health and Safety departments on all of our campuses, and Cal/OSHA when there are workplace safety concerns. The Health and Safety Committee will help in training members on each campus on how to assist Cal/OSHA with their investigations, how to file needed paperwork regarding unsafe working conditions, and how to read the reports and interpret results of tests done in work areas on CSU campuses.
CSUEU E-News: What is the first issue the committee will focus on?
Gina Voight: The first issue for the committee will be asbestos exposure on CSU campuses. It was hard to pick just one issue to address first, but this is a big one. Much of the older parts of our CSU system were built using asbestos products.
Just recently on my campus there were several grounds crew employees who were exposed to asbestos after being told the area did not have any asbestos in it. It was only after the employees had been working around it unprotected for several days that Environmental Health and Safety was notified by a concerned manager and the work was stopped. Upon testing, asbestos was found. Cal/OSHA got involved and issued several citations, CSUEU filed a grievance, and after much back and forth it was finally agreed upon that if an employee thinks they are being exposed to asbestos they can now stop the job and ask for further testing without fear of reprimand.
I want to make sure all of our members on every campus have this same ability to stand up for their right to safety in the workplace.
For more information, contact Gina Voight @ firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-703-6691.
Health & Safety Campaign