History of ConnectiCOSH
The Early Days of ConnectiCOSH:
ConnectiCOSH was born in 1980 from a “political analysis of a political struggle” (Jane Fleishman, 2021). Tim Morse, then a young and energetic worker health and safety advocate and first project director of the New Directions Program, an OSHA-funded grant under the direction of Eula Bingham at the UCONN Health Center (UCHC), was in the middle of the struggle to allow workers the Right to Know about the chemicals that they were being exposed to on the job. Jane Fleishman had just been newly hired under the New Directions grant. Together, with the backing of Ray Elling, a Professor of Health Sociology at UCHC, and the support of the New Directions Labor Advisory Board, Tim and Jane shared a partnership of like-minded vision and worked alongside labor, environmental and community activists to create ConnectiCOSH, the Connecticut Council for Occupational Safety and Health. The New Directions Labor Advisory Board, composed of individuals who were equally as passionate of worker safety and health, included Will Shortell, IAM, Hank Murray, UAW, Mary Sherwin, CT Citizens Action Group, Henry Hook, United Rubber Workers, and Bob Oaks, ICWU
C. From the start, ConnectiCOSH was not only a coalition of advocates, but also an organization that focused on the technical aspects of worker health and safety. Ultimately, this duality of purpose created the ConnectiCOSH Health Technical Committee which is the education and training sister organization to ConnectiCOSH and they both continue to operate to this day.
Many of their early successes are listed in the ConnectiCOSH Achievements timeline and span years of passionate focus on the rights and welfare of workers. The first ConnectiCOSH Health and Safety Convention was held in 1981 and that tradition continues. Each fall, ConnectiCOSH holds its annual health and safety convention that brings together numerous safety stewards, health and safety advocates, and legal and medical professionals to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing workers at that time. ConnectiCOSH supports various legislative initiatives during the annual legislative session and ConnectiCOSH Health Technical provides multi-level trainings to hundreds of workers each year.