April 24, 2022

Director’s Worker Memorial Day Message

On April 28, 2022, we observe Worker Memorial Day. This year will be the thirty third time Worker Memorial Day is recognized, with the first recognition was in 1989 in support of the establishment of the of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The good news is workplace fatalities have reduced dramatically over the past 50 years. In 1970, the United States averaged 38 worker deaths a day. In 2019 that number was down to 15 per day. The bad news is there are still 15 workers a day dying on the job in this country. One death is one too many and we must fight until every worker in the country has a safe workplace that will insure they return home at the end of the work day in the same condition in which they arrived.

A 2019 OSHA study discovered that a unionized workplace on average has 19% fewer workplace accidents and 14% lower workplace death rates. Why is this? The answer is simple; union contracts typically contain health and safety measures that go beyond those required by OSHA. Our first job in labor is to make sure your workplace is as safe as possible.

Labor spends a lot of time lobbying for better workplace health and safety standards. However, corporate interests use their influence to reduce funding for OSHA and to remove as many of the standards as possible. Most corporations care only about their bottom line and consider OSHA mandates a deterrent to doing business. People are not capital investments; they are individuals with families and responsibilities. While we can negotiate safer working practices for our members, those in non-union workplaces depend on OSHA requirements to keep them safe on the job.

On April 28, we pause to remember those who died or were injured on the job in the past year. Each death represents a family that lost a loved one, a provider, and emotional support for that family. I ask each of you to pause for a moment on Worker Memorial Day to remember our brothers and sisters that did not make it home last year. Please pray for the families, friends and coworkers affected by these losses.

While we remember the deceased, may we never forget to fight for the living. Push back against the corporations that try to avoid workplace safety standards, fight back against politicians that would slash funding for worker safety programs, and rebuff those who turn a cold heart toward workers who did not make it home.

In Solidarity,

Mitchell Smith Region 8 Director







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