AFT Resolution

PROTECTING NEXT-GEN WORKERS: HEALTH AND SAFETY EDUCATION FOR YOUNG WORKERS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

WHEREAS, 1.6 million U.S. youth ages 15-17 are employed, and every year, nearly 59,800 youths get injured on the job seriously enough to seek emergency room treatment, and youth are twice as likely to be injured at work than are adult workers; and

WHEREAS, teens tend to be hired into industries that pose high risk to workers of all ages, such as restaurants, healthcare settings, retail trade and construction; and

WHEREAS, as new workers, adolescents are likely to be inexperienced and unfamiliar with many of the tasks required of them and may be reluctant to ask questions or make demands on their employers. Health and safety education is the key to preventing injury among working teens and provides them with important job and life skills they need, now and in the future; and

WHEREAS, today’s complex, global work environments require young people to develop skills that meet 21st-century challenges, and working safely is one of the vital life and career skills necessary for becoming a successful and fully functioning participant in the new economy. Career and technical education (CTE) in high schools and community colleges has traditionally been a vehicle to highly skilled employment for successful graduates in diverse sectors, including the construction, manufacturing and service sectors; and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers and several affiliates have recognized an opportunity to prepare students for safe jobs in construction, manufacturing and certain service sectors (automotive, culinary arts, cosmetology, etc.) by developing programs to train career and technical educators to become Occupational Safety and Health Administration-authorized trainers, in partnership with the ICWUC Center for Worker Health and Safety Education. These members then offer courses (OSHA 10-hour and OSHA 30-hour courses in both construction and general industry) as part of their curriculum. CTE students completing the OSHA authorized training receive a U.S. Department of Labor OSHA 10- or 30-hour card, which is a credential required for employment in many construction and manufacturing settings; and

WHEREAS, the State Vocational Federation of Teachers (the SVFT represents career and technical educators in the statewide Connecticut career and technical system) partnered with the Connecticut Technical High School System in 2011 as a joint labor-management program to offer OSHA-authorized training. This partnership has enabled the AFT and the SVFT to conduct the OSHA authorization courses for teachers, and the state has agreed to allow OSHA-authorized teachers to offer the 10-hour courses during the school year as part of the curriculum and to cover administrative costs for the student cards. The ultimate goal of the joint program is to have each graduating senior credentialed with an OSHA-10 certification in the construction and/or general industry each year. In 2016 alone, 800 seniors will graduate with the card; and

WHEREAS, the AFT continues to expand this program—for instance, the Chicago Teachers Union mounted a similar joint program in 2015. OSHA-authorized AFT staff and SVFT members serve as trainers and mentors for participating CTU participants; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has adopted the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s “Youth@Work: Talking Safety” curriculum as a vehicle for members to teach adolescents about work-related hazards and their rights to a safe and healthful job under OSHA and state child labor laws. The AFT has conducted training-of-the-trainer courses for teachers, school nurses and paraprofessionals who have gone on to offer training to working students; and

WHEREAS, the SVFT and the Connecticut State Department of Education have entered into a partnership with NIOSH to train teachers in the “Youth@Work: Talking Safety” curriculum so that every entering freshman within the district will receive this training and credential; and

WHEREAS, the Oklahoma governor signed S.B. 262 into state law on April 1, 2015, making this legislation a national first. It directs the Oklahoma Department of Labor to collaborate with the Oklahoma State Department of Education to provide workplace safety training to students in grades 7 through 12; and

WHEREAS, there remains more opportunity to build joint CTE labor-management initiatives and to protect the health, safety and well-being of working students and graduates:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will work in partnership with the ICWUC Center for Worker Health and Safety Education to expand the OSHA Outreach Training Program to other states and career and technical education systems in K-12 districts and community colleges; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work to advocate for more health and safety training for young people by expanding the “Youth@Work: Talking Safety” program to other K-12 locals and their districts; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will develop model state legislation for affiliates interested in advocating for comprehensive K-12 education programs for working teens on basic workplace hazard awareness, control of dangerous exposures, workers' rights to a safe and healthful job, and how to speak up effectively when problems arise at work; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work to facilitate and support new joint labor-management initiatives for OSHA-authorized training and the “Youth@Work: Talking Safety” curriculum; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will urge the federal government to expand the reach of these programs to all working-age children in the United States.

 

(2017)

Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.