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Tales from the Field: WorkSHIFT’s Labor Outreach

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  1. Tales from the Field: WorkSHIFT’s Labor Outreach Presented by: Susan Weisman Erik Peterson Boston, December 2003

  2. WorkSHIFTS • Collaborative Labor Outreach Initiative: • Tobacco Law Center • A legal and policy resource center housed at William Mitchell College of Law • University of Minnesota Labor Education Service • Outreach component of University to Minnesota’s labor community • Partnering with Labor • Addressing tobacco’s harmful impact in workplace settings by: • Conducting educational outreach and training • Developing legal and policy tools and resources • Providing technical assistance to facilitate collective bargaining, policy development and implementation • Funded by MPAAT • Two-year grant from Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco

  3. WorkSHIFTS Long-term goals • Reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace for all workers, regardless of occupation or class. • Enhance access to effective, affordable cessation services and programs for workers who want to quit smoking. • Provide ongoing technical assistance to labor, management and individual workers that supports the development and implementation of sound smoking policies in the workplace. • Based in Minnesota – yet available to assist nationwide.

  4. WorkSHIFTS Why this issue? Why now? • Tobacco is the leading cause of death for workers. • Secondhand smoke (SHS) is one of the least visible workplace hazards. • SHS is the only Group A carcinogen (known to cause cancer in humans) not regulated by OSHA or the EPA. • Unions have not played an active role in tobacco prevention and control historically: • Perception of the issue as divisive • Relationships between unions and tobacco industry

  5. WorkSHIFTS Our approach • Collaborative • Meeting labor where it is now • Building relationships, partnerships, trust • Recognition that each union and local has specific needs and limits • Targeted • Striving to reach those workers most impacted by tobacco: blue collar and hospitality and service workers • Listening to labor’s many voices • Informal survey • Key informant interviews • Focus groups • Statewide telephone survey • Retreats with labor and tobacco control leaders

  6. Initial Findings Key findings from initial survey • August 2002 Minnesota AFL-CIO survey of convention delegates – • 182 respondents (26%); 37 international unions • Strong support for unions bargaining for cessation benefits • Strong agreement that SHS is a hazard • Strong support for limiting smoking to specific smoking area

  7. Initial Findings Labor leader interviews Fifteen labor leaders representing 7 international unions and 5 central labor councils were interviewed on smoking and cessation issues. • Secondhand smoke is a worker health and safety issue –but not a high priority compared to other workplace safety issues • Key areas of agreement: • Unions may have a role in addressing SHS workplace exposure • Members typically accept smoking policies once in place • Need more information, particularly on: • how tobacco use affects workers health and health care costs • available, effective cessation programs, their components and cost

  8. Focus Groups Focus group goal Six focus groups in three cities – union workers from targeted populations including smokers and nonsmokers. • Probe for a more nuanced understanding of worker perceptions, attitudes and awareness of tobacco issues • Gauge reactions to sets of facts and messages

  9. Focus Group Findings Ambivalence & uncertainty about union role • Saw union’s role to fight for wages and benefits • the union protects jobs and standards of living • on your side – strength in numbers – solidarity – know what we’re up against • Few saw a union role on smoking issues • some even wondered if union should take any position: “This is personal business – not union business.” • some thought there were “bigger fish to fry” • exceptions: • saw the union negotiating options if smoking ban imposed • some saw a role for negotiating cessation benefits

  10. Focus Group Findings Smokers as embattled minority • On one hand – many smokers want to quit • talked freely of health risks, their state of health, family member concerns, and attempts to quit • spoke of being at mercy of addiction, desired help, and expressed shame about not being “stronger” and able to quit • And yet – many smokers perceive they are being targeted • feel persecuted as smokers • acceptable to “attack” smokers • fewer places to smoke • taken advantage of by both government and tobacco industry • resent being judged or condescended to

  11. Focus Group Findings SHS: Nuisance or hazard? • Nonsmokers had mixed reactions • many believed it was a hazard, yet spoke of SHS mostly as a nuisance (smell, etc.); openness to belief that it is a hazard • most nonsmokers empathized with their smoking coworkers • for some, clearly a hazard to be avoided • Smokers resisted calling SHS a hazard • Smokers and nonsmokers both concerned about SHS’s impact on the most vulnerable • impact of SHS on children and elderly • impact of SHS on those with serious medical conditions

  12. Focus Group Findings Hints about appropriate messages • Smokers • Reacted negatively and argued against many “facts” about the health effects of smoking and SHS • Reacted more positively to “non-judgmental” messages • Reacted positively to messages that were seen as “helpful” – e.g., options for quitting; associated risks with other workplace hazards. • Nonsmokers • Generally open to messages and appreciated new “facts” • Desired balanced approach that respects nonsmokers

  13. Statewide Union Survey Survey goals Survey by Lake, Snell, Perry – a nationally recognized polling firm – and balanced for geography and union: 4.4% margin of error. • Learn basic attitudes of union members about SHS and smoking • Learn attitudes of union members about desired role of their unions on SHS, smoking cessation, and workplace smoking policies • Test effectiveness of specific messages for union members

  14. Statewide Union Survey Demographics

  15. Statewide Union Survey Nonsmoking and smoking members 30% Smokers70% Non-Smokers Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  16. Statewide Union Survey Union groups most likely to smoke All Minnesota smokers: 22% (M=25%; F=20%) All union member smokers: 30% Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  17. Statewide Union Survey Union groups least likely to smoke All Minnesotans: 22% smoke (M=25%; F=20%) All union members: 30% smoke Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  18. Statewide Union Survey SHS as Health Risk

  19. Statewide Union Survey SHS poses health risk to nonsmokers 73% Agree24% Disagree Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  20. Statewide Union Survey SHS harming own health 53% Concerned45% Not very concerned Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  21. Statewide Union Survey SHS as a health hazard or annoyance Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  22. Statewide Union Survey SHS as significant work health issue 40% Very Important59% Not Very Important Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  23. Statewide Union Survey Key SHS summary points • Members see SHS more as a health hazard (than merely an annoyance) and a risk to nonsmokers (more than to their own health) • Members do not generally see SHS as a significant workplace health issue • this may be due to lack of knowledge • this may also be due to lack of exposure at most worksites

  24. Statewide Union Survey Workplace Policies

  25. Statewide Union Survey Current workplace smoking policies Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  26. Statewide Union Survey Desired workplace smoking policies Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  27. Statewide Union Survey Key workplace policy summary points • About 20% of union members are potentially exposed to SHS at the workplace • Most union members generally like the smoking policies they have – there is little groundswell for change • Though few members want their unions to push harder on these issues (only about 30%) there is also even less “hard core” opposition to the union working on these issues (only about 10% – mostly smokers)

  28. Statewide Union Survey Smoking and Health Care Costs

  29. 77% Agree15% Disagree Statewide Union Survey Smoking increasing health care costs Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  30. 72% Agree19% Disagree Statewide Union Survey Reducing smoking will reduce health care costs Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  31. Statewide Union Survey Key health care costs summary points • Over 75% of union members believe that smoking increases their health care costs • Surprisingly, only slightly fewer also believe that reducing smoking will reduce their health care costs • Both smokers and nonsmokers agree, although smokers are somewhat more skeptical

  32. Statewide Union Survey Role of Union

  33. 38% Support35% Oppose Statewide Union Survey Members mixed on support of union negotiating a smoking ban Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  34. 50% Support 16% Oppose Statewide Union Survey Members support union negotiating reasonable smoking restrictions Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  35. Statewide Union Survey Who should take lead on smoking policies Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  36. 57% Very Important43% Not Very Important Statewide Union Survey Importance of union negotiating cessation benefits Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  37. Statewide Union Survey Key union role summary points • By far, union members believe that management should take the lead in setting smoking policies – only 6% think the union should • Members are very mixed about whether the union should negotiate a smoking ban • There is greater support (among both smokers and nonsmokers) for the union negotiating reasonable smoking restrictions • There is significant support for unions to negotiate cessation benefits

  38. Statewide Union Survey Message Directions

  39. Statewide Union Survey Message directions for nonsmokers • Nonsmoking union members are broadly receptive to a variety of facts on SHS and smoking • Best messages for nonsmokers include focusing on: • costs of smoking on health care costs • working together as coworkers (both smokers and nonsmokers) to limit harmful effects • standing up to big tobacco companies who are targeting union members Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  40. Statewide Union Survey Message directions for smokers • Smoking union members are generally much more skeptical to facts on SHS and smoking • Smokers are somewhat responsive to facts on: • cancer causing chemicals in tobacco smoke • SHS aggravating health conditions in their coworkers. • Best messages for smokers include focusing on: • hazards of second-hand smoke • working together as coworkers (both smokers and nonsmokers) to limit harmful effects • productivity costs resulting from smoking Lake, Snell, Perry and Associates – June 2003

  41. Labor Retreats Key retreat outcomes Two retreats held with labor activists and tobacco control advocates for more extensive feedback and discussion of key findings/next steps • Created core group of “champions” and ongoing advisory group • Identified resource needs/outreach activities • Four key priorities: • Focus on cessation benefits/strategies/costs • Develop collective bargaining strategies/options • Explore/develop policy approaches to smoke-free workplaces • Educational awareness for labor leaders and members • hazards • existing cessation benefits • health impact on workers and their families

  42. What We’ve Learned: The Big Picture • Attitudes • Current attitudes reflect existing policies and levels of knowledge • Attitudes shift in response to policy changes, leading to acceptance • Labor leaders are interested • They care about the toll tobacco is taking on their members • They want to know more about how tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke contribute to members’ escalating health care costs • They want more information about how to help members quit • Rank & file – open to addressing issue • Smokers want help to quit – easier access, more affordable, best options • Smokers and non-smokers want balanced approach – working together to achieve effective smoking

  43. Next Steps Create educational materials • Develop six key types of materials: • Union Activist/Leader Toolkit • hazards • existing cessation benefits • health impact on workers and their families • Workplace fliers on tobacco as workplace hazard; cessation options • Labor Management Toolkit • Labor Management Presentation (outreach) • Modules for Apprenticeship Programs (like BUILT materials) • Visually grabbing poster-art linking historic labor struggles on health and safety issues with current focus on tobacco

  44. Next Steps Continued outreach • Labor Management Committees • Apprenticeship Programs • Union Conventions and Events • Ongoing Role of Advisory Committee • WorkSHIFTS as National Resource Center

  45. For more information: • Susan Weisman • Director, WorkSHIFTS • Tobacco Law Center • William Mitchell College of Law • 875 Summit Avenue • St. Paul, Minnesota 55105 • 651-270-7516 • sweisman@wmitchell.edu Visit our website: www.workshifts.org • Erik Peterson • Lead Consultant, WorkSHIFTS • Labor Education Services • University of Minnesota • Duluth, Minnesota 55812 • 218-726-8683 • epeters5@d.umn.edu