News from Upstate

October 13, 2010
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Worker health, safety are top issues at Job Fairness event Oct. 16

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A conference to help job applicants and workers cope with their health and safety rights in a shaky economy will be held Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Huntington Family Center, 405 Gifford Street, Syracuse.

The event, called JOB FAIRness, will also focus on overcoming unlawful discrimination; what to do if cheated, shortchanged, or not paid at all; misclassification and other worker issues. The event’s lead sponsor is the Occupational Health Clinical Center of Upstate Medical University.

While job fairs have become commonplace in recent years, this event is the first of its kind in New York. “What we have learned from listening carefully to our patients,” said conference organizer Patricia Rector, “is that workplace health and safety abuses are sometimes indicators of other dysfunctions—and workplace rights are rarely, if ever, part of the curriculum of job fairs or ‘one-stop’ job centers.”

Rector leads the outreach and education division of the Occupational Health Clinical Centers, which serve 26 counties in upstate New York. The event was developed this summer by a team of four interns from Upstate Medical University’s Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action and MercyWorks, a faith-based job development program.

The fair offers individual workshops as well as information booths that include educational brochures and access to experts who know how workers can exercise their rights when state and federal workplace laws are violated. Most workshops will be offered in both English and Spanish.

A sampling of the workshops includes:

• Workplace health and safety problems, such as hazardous substances at work, sick buildings, and how to determine if symptoms are work-related

• Identifying wage and hour violations and other wage theft issues

• Paystub awareness, especially danger signs

• Overcoming unlawful discrimination at the workplace

• The basics of preparing for a job interview, especially when asked questions that are unlawful

• What is a union, its impact on workplace fairness, and how a union contract affects worker protections

• Immigrant worker rights, including the special problems of refugees and limited-English workers

JOB FAIRness is co-sponsored by the Workers’ Center of Central New York; the CNY Labor-Religion Coalition; and the Employment Core Team of the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), a faith-based grouP.

Walk-ins are welcome for the information booths, but workshop attendance requires pre-registration by Oct. 12.For a full list of workshops, conference schedule and pre-registration information, call the Occupational Health Clinical Center at 315-432-8899.

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