Johnstown Foundry, Inc., with several major plants, is one of the largest makers of cast-iron water and sewer pipes in the U.S. In one of the nation's most dangerous industries, Johnstown is perhaps one of the most unsafe, with four times the injury rate of its six competitors combined. Its worker death rate is six times the industry average. In a recent 7-year period, Johnstown's plants were also found to be in violation of pollution and emission limits 450 times.
Workers who protest dangerous work conditions claim they are "bull's-eyed" – marked for termination. Supervisors have bullied injured workers and intimidated union leaders. Line workers who fail to make daily quotas get disciplinary actions. Managers have put up safety signs after a worker was injured to make it appear that the worked ignored posted policies. They doctor safety records and alter machines to cover up hazards. When the government investigated one worker's death recently, inspectors found that Johnstown policy "was not to correct anything until OSHA found it."
Johnstown plants have also been repeatedly fined for failing to stop production to repair broken pollution controls. Three plants have been designed "high priority" violators by the EPA. Inside the plants, workers have repeatedly complained of blurred vision, severe headaches, and respiratory problems after being exposed, without training or protection, to chemicals used in the production process. Near one Pennsylvania plant, school crossing guards have had to wear gas masks; that location alone has averaged over a violation every month for 7 years. Johnstown's "standard procedure," according to a former plant manager, is to illegally dump industrial contaminants into local rivers and creeks. Workers wait for night or heavy rainstorms before flushing thousands of gallons from their sump pumps.
Given the following scenarios, what is your position, and what actions should you take?
- On your spouse's recent move to the area, you accept a job, perhaps somewhat naively, as a company nurse in one of the Johnstown plants. After 2 weeks on the job, you became aware of the work environment noted above.
- You are a contractor who has traditionally used Johnstown's products, which meet specifications. Johnstown is consistently the low bidder. Your customers are happy with the product.
- You are Johnstown's banker.
- You are a supplier to Johnstown.