This week, union members across the world will come together to celebrate the lives of workers lost and to recommit to the fight to make safety priority No. 1 on the job.
Workers Memorial Day in the U.S. and the National Day of Mourning in Canada will be celebrated this year on April 28, in conjunction with International Workers’ Day on May 1.
Each holiday is an opportunity to remember the sisters and brothers we’ve lost, but more importantly, to work toward a future where no one is subject to the kinds of unsafe workplaces that lead to tragedy.
“That’s especially important this year,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson. “As the world copes with the COVID-19 crisis and the dangers that entails to workers who must be on the job, there’s nothing more important than ensuring those workers are safe.
“It’s our responsibility to press our elected leaders, our employers and agencies like OSHA here in the states and the federal and provincial safety authorities in Canada to do better on behalf of working men and women.”
In the U.S., 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which created OSHA.
The law’s passage was a high-water mark for prioritizing worker safety in the U.S., but over the years the agency has occasionally needed to be reminded of the reason it exists.
As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on public health and on the world economy, OSHA has only introduced unenforceable “tips” for employers on preventing the spread of the virus on job sites.
“We need leadership from every level of government that takes the safety of frontline workers as seriously as politicians take their own health and safety,” Stephenson said. “In 2020, that’s what Workers Memorial Day and the Day of Mourning mean to me.
“Let’s remember those we’ve lost, but let’s also pledge that we’ll work with everything we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of those who are still here.