On Friday, the unions of the AFL-CIO will join thousands of activists across America to remember workers killed and injured on the job during Workers'' Memorial Day.
Hundreds of nationwide events under the banner "Mourn for the Dead -- Fight for the Living. Organize and Mobilize for Safe Jobs," will highlight the toll of job injuries and deaths and how the union movement is fighting for safer jobs.
The first Workers'' Memorial Day was observed in 1989. April 28 was designated because it is the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) and the day of similar remembrance in Canada.
On this Workers'' Memorial Day, unions will call for several things.
- A final ergonomics standard to prevent repetitive strain injuries.
- An end to employer and congressional attacks on workers'' safety and health and workers'' rights.
- The right of workers to organize and join unions without employer interference or intimidation.
- Stronger whistle-blower protections for worker who report job hazards and injuries.
- The right of workers and unions to speak out for strong job safety laws and to have a full voice in the legislative and political process.
"For decades, unions have led the struggle for improved working conditions and dignity and respect on the job. Unions have won laws and protections, such as the OSH Act and the federal Mine Safety and Health Act, that have made workplaces safer for all workers," said Peg Seminario, director AFL-CIO Department of Occupational Health and Safety. "On April 28, as we remember workers who have been killed and injured, we must renew our fight for the living."
What can you do on Workers'' Memorial Day? AFL-CIO offers the following suggestions:
- Organize petition and letter-writing campaigns to Congress and the Department of Labor in support of an OSHA ergonomic standard.
- Hold a candlelight vigil, memorial service or moment of silence to remember those who have died on the job.
- Create a memorial or shrine at workplaces where workers have been killed on the job.
- Organize a pledge campaign. Have local employers or government officials sign a pledge committing to support strong safety laws and the freedom of workers to choose a union.
For more information about Workers'' Memorial Day go to www.aflcio.org.
by Virginia Sutcliffe