Workplace Safety And The Latest Accident

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imagesIn light of the most recent horrific accident that occurred at the distribution center, the Organizing Committee wants to see some changes in workplace safety practices.  The most recent forklift accident left a new employee with a severely mangled foot which has taken several surgeries to repair and will likely never be the same again. Even though Local 701 does not yet represent the employees at PetSmart, we are not going to stand by and allow PetSmart to ignore the many dangerous workplace conditions that you deal with every day.

After hearing of this latest tragedy, I reached out to the local OSHA office in Aurora and spoke with one of their investigators about what was going on inside your distribution center.  I explained to him how the employees are too afraid of retaliation to file an OSHA complaint and, that on their behalf, I wished to do something to ensure the safety of the workers.  I told the investigator about the most recent accident and also the many other concerns that the employees had regarding their workplace safety, specifically issues that employees have complained about to PetSmart already and have still not been handled.

We are in the process of getting a case started with OSHA, if any employee wants to contact me with any more information about workplace safety concerns they are having, I would be glad to bring these concerns to OSHA on your behalf.  You have the right to contact OSHA and file a complaint on your own as well, and in fact, as part of OSHA regulation, you cannot be retaliated against for filing a complaint.  You might wonder how can we help the employees at PetSmart even though it is not a Unionized company yet?… Good question. In an interpretation letter from OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard Fairfax dated February 21, 2013, he states that …”OSHA’s field operations manual recognizes the role of an “employee representative,”  who may represent employees’ interests in enforcement-related matters.”  You can read the full text of the letter HERE. For more information about OSHA and your rights to a safe workplace you can visit the OSHA website HERE.  You can also download a workers rights booklet HERE.  Read this booklet, print it out, bring it to work and allow others to read about their rights, do not stand for an unsafe workplace!  Feel free to post any workplace safety concerns on this page.

Company Scare Tactic

no liesSeveral employees have already told me that the company has eluded to the fact that if the employees did in fact decide to join the Union that Petsmart would simply close the DC or move the work to another facility.  First of all it is illegal for the company to threaten to close or move your facility.  Let me say that again so we are clear on this subject.  The National Labor Relations Act clearly prohibits any employer from threatening to close a facility if their employees decide to Unionize.  If the company has made these threats, they are in Violation of Federal law.

That being said, it is also untrue!  In researching the company we found a copy of Petsmarts 10K filing for 2012.  What’s a 10K you ask?  A 10K is a document that any publicly traded company like Petsmart is required to file with the FTC annually which spells out company information for potential investors to look at before they invest their money. On page 19 ( HERE ) there is some very interesting information about the DC in Ottawa, some information you may know, and more information that I am sure the company does not want you to know.  It’s 1,000,000 square feet, which you probably all already know, it is leased not owned by Petsmart and the lease does not expire until the year 2022, and the most important peice of information about their lease…. it is non- cancelable, meaning that not only would it be illegal for them to close the DC but also not cost effective.  ( You can click HERE to see the entire 2012 10K Filing )

Spread TRUTH not lies!

Where are you now, and where would you like to be?

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During all the company meetings one thing they will fail to ask you about is your plan.  Everyone is going to have a different answers to these questions, but if you think about your own goals, and how you would like your job to be ask yourself, where am I now?  Where would I like to be? And I guess the most important question, How will I get there?

Currently the Employees at Petsmart are considered Employees-At-Will, which means that the company can do as it pleases, change any work rules or conditions of employment at any time, without talking to the employees, without your input, and if you like the changes … great, if not…. they can show you the door at anytime.

How many times has Petsmart changed the rules as it wants?  What… one less Break time you say?  That’s right they can take those breaks away any time it is convenient for the company.  Did they increase your productivity rate….. again?  Sure they did, because you have allowed them to, over and over again. An employee-at-will is subject to the whims of the Company.

That is the difference!  A Union employee, one covered by a contract will not have their rules changed as the days pass.  You will know what you are going to get, you will have a say in what you get, and for the life of that agreement, the company can not take anything away from you.  If the company seeks changes, they will have to negotiate those changes with your Union. Your work rules, your wages, your breaks, everything will be included in your contract.  No different than your first day on the job, when Petsmart handed you an employee handbook, your set of rules.  You will be negotiation the set of rules you want the company to follow.

Up until now the company has gotten away with treating their employees however they wanted to because no one has stood up and stopped them.  In the words Of Tom Talbot, the founder of the IAM ” …And there the question arises, why should we be deprived of the good name we deserve, and why suffer all these disadvantages mindless of all the advantages within arms length of us…”  These words are as true now as when they were spoken in 1888.

So ask your self. Where am I? Do I want to be an Employee-At-Will forever?  How will I make that change?  Talk to your co-workers, stand together and form a Union!  Demand better from your employer, divided you beg! Together you Bargain!!