The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, March 23, 2018

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

Asbestos bill gets better

LANSING – Lobbying by building trades union reps has, for now, helped successfully water down a state bill that would have imposed greater time and paperwork requirements on workers afflicted with asbestos-related disease when they go to file legal actions against related companies.

Michigan House Bill 5456, the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act, adopted by the full state House last month, would have imposed more stringent time limits and paperwork requirements on asbestos-afflicted workers seeking to file legal action against companies that worked with such hazardous materials. 

The state bill analysis of the House-adopted measure included no less than four full pages of requirements from asbestos-afflicted patients, as part of increasing “transparency” in the process. The requirements included new time limits on filing legal actions as well as more stringent rules for reopening and adjusting asbestos claims.

The companion legislation adopted by the state Senate on March 15 reduced those paperwork requirements down to a single page, and provided terms that should be much more acceptable to filers of asbestos legal action. 

“The House version was quite a bit worse than the Senate version, but we’re expecting the Senate version to be passed by the House and get signed by the governor this week,” said Bill Flory, director of legislative affairs for the Michigan Association for Justice. 

Flory said the new language is based on rules pushed in a national effort to change state laws, “but Michigan won’t be changing much,” he said. “These are close to rules that are already in place.”

Most asbestos-related products have been banned from the workplace for decades, but thousands of construction, shipyard, and factory workers, among others, continue to get sick every year. Asbestos-related diseases kills about 10,000 people every year.

Activist network conferences slated

A series of individual one-day conferences sponsored by the Union Community Activist Network (UCANN) are scheduled for four different dates in April.

A community partner with the United Way for Southeast Michigan and in conjunction with the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, the UCANN conference is open to all individuals, including union and nonunion workers, labor leaders, retirees and community activists. It strives to "tackle the ever shifting challenges in the labor movement and the community that affect our commonality."

The agenda of the conference includes information on the United Way's role in the community, an introduction to parliamentary procedure to help run community meetings, local union/community communication, and constituency groups' roles in the labor movement.

The day-long conferences begin at 8:15 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast and are scheduled on Saturdays, April 7 at Plumbers Local 98 in Madison Hts., April 14 at IBEW Local 58 in Detroit, and April 21 at UAW Regiona 1A in Taylor. A weekday conference is slated Wednesday, April 18 at the Utility Workers Local 223 hall in Dearborn. Conferences run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information call the United Way for SE Michigan, (313) 226-9217. A brochure/registration form is available at (313) 226-9217.