Three whistle blowers receive nearly $1M in compensation

 

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

Pontiac, Michigan - One foreman and two truck drivers working for a Michigan asphalt company received nearly $1M in compensation after losing their jobs for whistle blowing about safety violations at the company. The three men raised safety concerns related to rest periods for drivers, exceeding legal overtime and lack of vehicle maintenance.

Asphalt Specialists Inc, headquartered out of Pontiac, Michigan, was found in violation of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act by the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHEA for wrongfully terminating employees who had raised safety concerns.  The STAA covers private-sector drivers and other employees of commercial motor carriers who resist working in unsafe working conditions and report safety issues to OSHEA.

“It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who report work-related safety concerns or violations of federal transportation regulations, which require drivers to have a minimum 10-hour rest period between shifts,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.

In a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor, Asphalt Specialists Inc was ordered to reinstate the three employees to their former positions with all pay, benefits and rights.  The company will pay close to $944,000 in damages, $250,000 in back wages and $110,000 in compensatory damages and $600,000 in punitive damages.

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New film to help students take action on global water crisis

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

We take it for granted when we turn on the faucet and clean drinking water  appears and is plentiful.  Yet, throughout the world more than 1 billion people do not have clean drinking water.  The Thirst Project, an proactive student organization hitting the clean water problem head on, says  80 percent of global diseases are water-borne and result from drinking contaminated water.  These diseases kill more than 2.2 million people per year.

In a new movie, “Earth to Echo,” the stars of the film receive “distress signals” on their phones from someone who needs their help.

Students can join The Thirst Project and “Earth to Echo” to take action against the global water crisis without having to give, donate, or raise any of their own money. All you have to do is TEXT the keyword ECHO (in all caps) followed by your message for hope and encouragement to someone in a developing community without safe, clean drinking water to 51555. For every message we receive, the movie “Earth to Echo” will donate to The Thirst Project to build wells to give clean water to those who need it most. Not only that, but we will capture the actual messages we receive and install them on murals on the wells funded by this campaign. Then, go see the movie “Earth to Echo” in theaters everywhere July 2014. Visit www.ThirstProject.org/EarthToEcho to learn how you can get involved today!

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Atlanta interstates are parking lots as ice storm stalls the south

Many motorist on Georgia interstates abandoned their cars and started walking toward shelters. Some motorists spent up to 24 hours in their cars while facing the 2014 winter ice storm that hit the South on Jan. 28, 2014.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

Relocating to Atlanta from Indiana two years ago, we love the warmer weather along with longer spring and fall seasons, but we were not ready for what happens in Georgia if true winter weather hits the South.

Winter is not the same as in northern and eastern states.  Rarely does the temperature plummet down below 32 degrees.  This year the freezing temperatures have been more frequent.  It was just a matter of time until the moisture and the cold were going to collide and throw Atlanta and the rest of the south into turmoil.

Yesterday, Jan. 28, the snow started falling and ice quickly accumulated up to two inches on roadways.  Within hours, an immeasurable traffic jam locked up all the interstates within the city of Atlanta and Georgia, along with the neighboring states of Alabama and South Carolina.

Early afternoon Atlanta businesses released employees from work, local schools deployed their school buses and the normal heavy traffic for the city merged onto the interstates and roadways. Very quickly most city and interstate traffic came to an abrupt halt.

For many people on the interstates, the thought of sleeping in their cars that evening was inconceivable.  But they did sleep in their cars, and as of 10 a.m. on Jan. 29, truckers, drivers with their families had bunked down in their vehicles and waited for one of the 30 Atlanta plow trucks to spread a salt mixture to break up the roadway ice rink.  Last night, many desperate motorists abandoned their vehicles and walked toward home or shelters.

Stories of children rescued from stalled school buses and one pregnant woman delivering a baby in a car in the traffic jam spread throughout the local media and CNN.  More than 800 students spent the night at schools along with their teachers and administrators until parents could pick them up in the morning.

Even through the chaos of this ice storm, there were many acts of kindness including Home Depots keeping their stores opened for stranded motorists, and the Georgia National Guard handed out MREs to drivers marooned on the interstates.  In addition, local residents living close to the interstates opened their doors to strangers.  And when drivers’ cars ran out of gas, many cold drivers were welcomed into strangers’ cars to warm up and endure the jam for up to 12 hours.

Tomorrow the temperature will reach up to 40 degrees.  The ice will melt and the traffic will flow back to the normal Atlanta congestion with longer-than-usual traffic patterns.  But for Atlanta, that is the normal.

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Purdue shooting gives anti-gun advocate a first-hand experience

Purdue University students huddle in the hallways of classrooms after they received a text message to shelter-in-place because of shooting at the Engineering Building. Purdue University is located in West Lafayette, Ind.

By Sharon Dunten, editor of SurvivingTimes.com

West Lafayette, Ind. — Today marks the 35th school shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in Newtown, Conn., Dec.14, 2012. Around noon on Tuesday, Jan. 21, Purdue University students and staff were placed in shut down as a lone gunman entered a classroom in the university’s Engineering Building and shot a man to death.

One woman, Julia Chester, took this shooting very personally because it touched too close to home. She is the Regional Manager for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of American mothers demanding new and stronger solutions to gun laws and loopholes that might jeopardize the safety of U.S. children and families.

Chester is also Associate Professor of Psychological Studies at Purdue University.

In a statement released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action, Chester said for over a year she has worked with hundreds of thousands of U.S. moms to help stem the “tide of gun violence in America.”

“Today, I experienced the terror of an active shooting first-hand,” said Chester. While in her office at Purdue University, she was alerted through the university’s text messaging system that there was a shooting on campus. Along with her colleagues and students, she was alerted to shelter-in-place.

Shelter-in-place is an emergency procedure now used in homes, offices and schools throughout the country.   U.S. Homeland Security gives tips on what an individual or individuals should do during such an emergency.

“The fear and confusion on campus was palpable. No matter how many drills you’ve been through, panic takes its toll on logic,” said Chester.  She says she feared no matter how many doors you try to shut between you and the shooter, a bullet could find its way through even though the shooting took place a couple of buildings away from her office.

“We owe our children and ourselves a world where we don’t have to live by lockdown,” Chester said.  She said Americans need to call on Congress immediately to act on gun violence and pass new and stronger gun laws.

Again, one man died in the university shooting.  One man is in custody.  No motive for the shooting has been released by local law enforcement officials. Purdue University officials said all classes were cancelled today and Wednesday.

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42 miners died in U.S. mines in 2013

The most common cause of mining accidents last year involved machinery and powered haulage equipment. Thinkprogress.org photo

- SurvivingTimes.com staff report

WASHINGTON, D.C. - According to preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, 42 miners died in work-related accidents at the nation’s mines in 2013, an increase from the 36 miners who died in 2012.

While mining fatalities occurred at a record low rate for the first three quarters of 2013, during the fourth quarter of 2013, six coal miners and nine metal/nonmetal miners died in mining accidents, a significant increase from the same period in 2012, when four coal miners and two metal/nonmetal miners died.

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Blizzard of 2014 hits Midwest, shows kindness of people

Hours later the path that was cleared by neighbors was drifted shut. Indianapolis declared a state of emergency on Jan. 6. Angie Rout photo

Members of an apartment community in Indianapolis start to shovel their way out of their neighborhood. Angie Rout photo

Snow and frigid cold  descended upon the Midwest for what is going to be called the Blizzard of 2014.  But sometimes a weather emergency brings out the best in people to help shelter people or to help dig out a neighbor. Unfortunately, a blizzard might erase those efforts as additional snow, high winds and subzero cold continue to afflict the Midwest.

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