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Working on Empty Documentary Announcement

Dear Colleagues,

Many jobs in America today are making people sick.

From the lowest to the highest-paying jobs, workers are suffering from a variety of illnesses stemming from exposure to stressful work environments.

Job stressors of many kinds such as insecure contracts, lack of respect, lack of control, long hours, shortened or skipped breaks, fear of layoff, unpaid time, diminished benefits including health insurance and pension, all contribute significantly to mental health problems such as burnout and depression and to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease. Many of these illnesses could be prevented if we acknowledge their causes and act now.

Workers sometimes have a sense that their jobs are making them sick though the serious and life- threatening nature of these health consequences may only become apparent after years of exposure. Job-related health problems are also frequently dismissed as being individual problems or personal weakness rather than as predictable outcomes of the way work is organized. The medical profession frequently contributes to this misunderstanding by ignoring working conditions as it sees most illness as the result of individual differences and/or unhealthy behaviors.

We need to change all this.

We want to make workers aware of this major threat to their health and quality life. Workers need to know that stressful jobs are making them sick but also that the jobs are becoming more and more stressful in recent years.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Individually and collectively, people can bring about positive change – for working people, and for the organizations they work for.

We are making a full-length documentary film and a companion book that will expose this mostly hidden threat to the wellbeing of working people from all walks of life. We will show how working people are negatively impacted by today’s conditions of work. We will explain the role of globalization and companies’ need for ever-increasing profits and how this contributes to creating unhealthy working conditions worldwide that facilitate the exploitation of working people from all walks of life in what is actually a race to the bottom. We will do this, in part, by telling the stories of real working people, nurses, hotel housekeepers, assembly line workers, bus drivers, software developers and technology workers as well as cashiers.

We are asking for your help getting out this important message. Here are some things you can do:

• We are looking for people to be interviewed in the film. If you are or know of a worker who may be interested in discussing his/her personal work story, please ask them to contact us.

• We are looking for forums where we can spread our message. If your organization has meetings where we can make a presentation, please let us know.

• We are looking for examples of organizations that are actively working to better the lives, and particularly the health, of working people. Fight of 15 is one such example. If your organization has upcoming activities that we can film which address these concerns, please contact us.

• We are also looking for funding as film-making is expensive. Any help would be appreciated. We are a 501(c) 3 – a non-profit charitable organization – and therefore, contributions are tax deductible.

Who are we? This effort begins with the Center for Social Epidemiology and includes researchers, activists, and veteran filmmakers.

We hope you will join us in this important, difficult, and yet very hopeful project that has the intention and promise of improving the lives of millions of people suffering or who will be suffering from preventable work-related illness unless a major change takes place.

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