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Becky McClain: Journey from Labroom to Courtroom - The Legal, Emotional & Financial Struggles of Dealing with Occupational Illness and Holding Pfizer Accountable

Becky McClain worked as a career molecular biologist for 23 years. McClain explains that she was working at Pfizer when she was exposed to a bio-agent that led to her developing a serious illness. Recently a federal appeals court found that she was heavily retaliated against for raising health and safety concerns at the workplace. Her trailblazing whistleblower lawsuit against Pfizer is a victory for workers’ rights. Below is an interview with Becky McClain. 

Michael Lax, Occupational Physician: Addressing Uncertainty in Occupational Disease

The experts tell us that 870,000 workers get sick and 55,000-60,000 workers die each year in the United States from an occupational disease.  They typically follow up these numbers with a caveat that these are undoubtedly underestimates. How much of an underestimate? Nobody knows.

Joe LaDou: The Burden of Occupational Disease & the Need for Workers’ Compensation Reform

Occupational diseases are a major public health concern, with a potentially staggering cost in health care and wage-loss benefits. Conservative estimates are that 6–10% of cancers, and 5–10% of myocardial infarctions, strokes, and transient ischemia are caused by workplace factors. Occupational neurological, psychological, renal, and many other diseases are not even estimated because data are so limited, and so few studies are funded. The majority of individuals with known or suspected occupational disease do not file claims for workers’ compensation benefits.

Reflections of an Injured Worker Organizer & Activist- Interview with Allen Ray Bernard

You led a successful injured worker group, the Louisiana Injured Worker Union for around 14 years (1990-2004). How did it all start?

Jim Ellenberger, Retired AFL-CIO: You are Not Alone - Get out there and Organize!

Just a few months ago there were demonstrations in a state where cuts in workers’ compensation were enacted by the legislature. Thousands of workers protested in several locations. In one city, seven thousand turned out in a driving rain storm. The state: New South Wales. The city: Sydney. Try to imagine something similar happening in this country.

If you are reading this, welcome to one of the few positive developments for injured workers and their allies in recent memory. Congratulations to all those who collaborated to make this happen.

María E. Gutiérrez, Interfaith Worker Justice: 10 Suggestions for Making Workers’ Compensation Reform More Significant for the Broader Advocacy Community

Every time I present trainings on workplace health and safety for low-wage and immigrant workers, at least one worker in the room has questions regarding his or her own work-related injury. As sad as it sounds, it is not surprising to learn that low-wage and immigrant workers are usually exposed to the most hazardous workplaces and employed under irregular and irresponsible conditions.