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Your Environment. Your Health.

International Union, United Auto Workers

WTP Cooperative Agreement Awardee

Principal Investigator / Institution

Andrew Comai
Tel 313-926-5563
Fax 313-926-5755
acomai@uaw.net
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and
Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
8000 E. Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Program Description

International Union, United Auto Workers logo

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) maintains an ongoing program of hazardous waste operations and emergency response training for employees at UAW-represented workplaces. These facilities are primarily manufacturing locations in the automobile, metalworking, and transportation equipment industries and some service sector locations, such as public works departments and health care facilities. Within our membership, our training prioritizes those most likely to be exposed to hazardous materials and those who are responsible for the health and safety of others. For these reasons, the priority training population will be drawn from chemical emergency response teams, hazardous waste handlers, and workplace joint labor-management committees.

Spanish-speaking workers are another target population. The occupational and environmental health disparities that they face constitute an environmental justice issue. The UAW has formed a consortium with Macomb International Service Center, Catholic Charities Hispanic Outreach Services, and United Hispanic Workers of Detroit to provide health and safety training. These organizations are established in the Latino community and have the respect and trust of community members. The populations they serve are employed in industries where they face higher-than-average health and safety risks. To meet their needs, the UAW and its partner organizations have implemented some innovative methods, such as incorporating health and safety topics into English as a Second Language courses, and delivering training in two-hour segments on Sunday afternoons.

The UAW also works with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, a community organization serving the inner city, which maintains a comprehensive Green Jobs Training Program and educates community members in the skills to obtain employment in the environmental remediation field. Another partner is the Green Door Initiative. The goals of Green Door’s Environmental Technician Program include transforming the lives and communities of Detroit through sustainable, environmentally just, and green jobs.

Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program (HWWTP)

The UAW is expanding the scope of an ongoing program whose long-term objective is to prevent work-related harm by providing health and safety training to UAW members and members of communities disadvantaged by environmental injustice, limited English proficiency, and/or lack of educational opportunity. The training will help them to protect themselves, their places of employment, and their communities from exposure to hazardous materials encountered during hazardous waste operations, hazardous materials transportation, environmental restoration of contaminated facilities, or chemical emergency response. A special strength of this project is that it integrates the technical expertise of the UAW and the University of Michigan (U-M) in basic disciplines of health and safety, the practical experience of the UAW in addressing hazards at work, and the ongoing relationship of the UAW with trainees and management at work sites served. The specific aims are to:

  1. Conduct training in health and safety topics directly or indirectly related to elimination and/or reduction of potential exposure to hazardous materials.
  2. Develop new curricula on chemical safety and security, climate change, Ebola, and other topics. Revise and expand existing curricula as needed. Integrate advanced training technology into new and revised curricula to improve the delivery of training.
  3. Continue and intensify efforts to identify and target high-risk work sites for delivery of training.
  4. Continue and expand collaborative partnerships with community groups and other NIEHS Worker Training Program awardees. These partnerships will be particularly focused on addressing underserved workers, health disparities, and environmental justice.
  5. Conduct program evaluation, integrating use of worker-evaluators to provide feedback for continual improvement of curricula and delivery methods. This will include evaluating the long-term impact of industrial emergency response (IER) training on worker and organizational outcomes.
  6. Continue and expand a study that identifies factors contributing to suboptimal safety cultures and assesses the effectiveness of low-cost intervention strategies to positively change suboptimal workplace safety cultures.

U-M has responsibility for all assessment, evaluation, and quality assurance activities of NIEHS-funded UAW training activities. In addition, UAW worker trainers actively participate in evaluation activities. The principal areas of U-M activities include:

  • Quality assurance and curriculum development.
  • Support and assistance of local union discussion leader (LUDL) development as trainers and evaluators.
  • Formative evaluation of LUDL training and an expanded LUDL role.
  • Impact studies of IER training.
  • Intensive plant-specific evaluations of program impact.

The UAW and U-M will work together to assure the ongoing high quality of training in existing and new programs.

Project Duration

  • August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2020 (HWWTP)

Grant Numbers

  • U45 ES006180-24 (HWWTP)

Other Participating Organizations