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International Union,
United Auto Workers

WETP Cooperative Agreement Awardee:

Principal Investigator/Institution

Tim McClain

Tel (313) 926-5563
Fax (313) 926-5755


International Union, United Automobile,
Aerospace and Agricultural
Implement Workers of America (UAW)
8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 ( Exit NIEHS Website

Program Contact

Luis Vazquez

Tel (313) 926-5612
Fax (313) 926-5755


International Union, United Automobile,
Aerospace and Agricultural
Implement Workers of America (UAW)
8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Target Training Populations

UAW logo The target population for the UAW HWWT project will be drawn primarily from three groups of employees at UAW-represented workplaces: a) workers and supervisors involved in chemical emergency response and clean-up activities; b) employees at hazardous waste generating (production) sites who are involved in handling waste such that their exposure to health and safety hazards are similar to those of workers at Treatment, Storage, and Disposal (TSD) facilities; and c) union leadership representing the first two groups of workers.

Targeted UAW job assignments include employees who respond to chemical releases, and those exposed to hazardous wastes in a facility as an integral part of their jobs. These are overlapping categories. Workers with potential exposure to hazardous wastes and/or chemical releases are:

  • Chemical Emergency Response Teams are comprised of volunteers with other full-time job assignments who respond to incidents as needed, typically maintenance workers, skilled trades workers such as pipefitters, machine repair personnel, laborers, production operators from areas where spills are likely to occur, waste water treatment personnel, and security personnel.
  • Hazardous Waste Handlers include workers whose jobs require hazardous waste to be removed from process equipment, collected, stored temporarily, treated, then transported off-site to a hazardous waste disposal facility. Job assignments with exposure to these wastes include: waste water treatment operators, paint booth cleaners, equipment cleaners, maintenance workers, equipment repair personnel, powered industrial truck operators, janitors, shipping and receiving personnel. UAW membership is approximately 20% skilled trades (journeymen with 8,000 hour apprenticeships or equivalent), about half of whom are in maintenance trades. Fire brigades and emergency response crews are typically recruited from this category. Booth and equipment cleaners are approximately 5% of the workforce at a typical assembly plant.
  • On-Site Joint Labor-Management Committee members will also be targeted. As OSHA has long recognized, “management commitment and employee involvement are complementary” and critical to an effective health and safety program (54 Federal Register 3904, January 26, 1989). Health and safety committee training provides representatives of union and management with the skills necessary to identify, evaluate, control, and anticipate hazards in the workplace. These committees facilitate worker involvement in health and safety issues, and emphasize joint resolution of concerns.

The project will focus on recruitment of employees from facilities in the non-Big 3 sector of the UAW. In general, both labor and management leadership for units in this group lack training in hazard recognition, prevention and control. On-site training will include representatives of management as well as UAW members. Employees from the Big Three auto companies will also be trained, especially at union-sponsored functions, but project personnel will not actively recruit from these units.

The UAW involves numerous community groups representing environmental, environmental justice, and minority concerns in UAW-sponsored emergency response training programs. These groups represent a broad geographical area and demographic diversity and will provide target populations previously inaccessible to the UAW. The expansion of UAW emergency response training programs to the broader community enhances both the scope and impact of UAW training programs.

The primary objective of these programs will be to partner with the following groups to promote toxic use reduction, emergency preparedness in the community, and heightened community awareness of chemical process safety and pollution prevention:

  • Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) (Detroit, MI) -- Has historically been involved in training minority workers on hazardous waste cleanup. DWEJ is currently working on local health initiatives, including asthma studies of children living near industrial facilities.
  • Ecology Center (Ann Arbor, MI) -- A 35-year old grassroots environmental organization that provides policy guidance to both community members and government agencies concerning pollution prevention in the auto industry.
  • Southeast Michigan Coalition on Occupational Safety and Health (SEMCOSH) -- Is an organization of workers, unions, attorneys, medical and health and safety professionals concerned with improving occupational safety and health. SEMCOSH provides training, technical assistance and other resources to workers in the Detroit area.

The UAW HWWT project will also specifically target minority worker populations represented by the UAW. The UAW provides a vital training resource for these facilities. The UAW has Spanish speaking peer trainers to address the needs of Spanish-speaking UAW members. All of the community groups listed represent minority and underserved worker populations.

The UAW regularly participates in the Latino Workers Leadership Institute in Ypsilanti, MI. The conference is sponsored by the University of Michigan Labor Studies Center.

The UAW also participates in the University of Michigan Labor Studies Black Men In Unions conference. Recently developed Emergency Preparation modules cover topics from structure and preparation to actions required to respond safely in emergency situations.

Program Description

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) maintains an on-going 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. This project continues a 14-year training effort targeting a large group of workers at high risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals, especially in smaller companies that have fewer resources to devote to health and safety. The paramount goal of this project is to reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous materials and wastes at UAW-represented facilities and in surrounding communities.

The specific aims of this project are to: Conduct intensive (24 - 40 hour) courses in Industrial Emergency Response (IER) for employees at their worksites; health and safety awareness training programs for union and worksite leadership in emergency response, hazardous materials/waste, and pollution prevention; Hazardous Materials Review Committee training programs on chemical emergency preparedness and pollution prevention for joint Labor/Management Health and Safety Committees; Advanced Training Technologies (ATT) modules; Basic Competency Training for Joint Labor/Management Health and Safety Committees; Operations Level HazMat Refresher programs; and Train-the-Trainer programs at target worksites.

UAW will continue to identify high-risk worksites and target work assignments for delivery training. UAW will expand utilization of worker trainers, known as Local Union Discussion Leaders (LUDLs), to deliver emergency response training programs at target worksites and union leadership development functions, and further expand the role of the LUDLs in the areas of curriculum development and revision, program evaluation and train-the-trainer planning.

The University of Michigan has responsibility for all assessment, evaluation and quality assurance activities of the NIEHS-funded UAW training activities. In addition, UAW LUDLs actively participate in evaluation activities. The principal areas of U-M activities have included: quality assurance and curriculum development; support and assistance of LUDL development as trainers and evaluators; formative evaluation of LUDL training and expanded LUDL role; impact studies of IER training; and intensive plant-specific evaluations of program impact.

UAW and University of Michigan will work together to further develop the worker-based evaluation component and continue to assure the ongoing high quality of training in existing and new programs by monitoring trainee perceptions of quality, appropriateness and usefulness and by conducting assessments of new curricula.

Project Duration

  • September 1, 2005 - July 31, 2010

Grant Number

  • U45ES06180

Other Participating Organizations Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health
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Last Reviewed: May 07, 2007