Each year the Labor community comes together on Apr. 28 to remember those workers who lost their lives on the job over the past year.
Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to reflect on the impact of those whose lives have been tragically cut short and to recommit ourselves to ensuring that their deaths will result in real changes for working people both on and off the job.
This year, Workers’ Memorial Day is especially important, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which went into effect on Apr. 28, 1971.
Over its 50-year history, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has enacted and enforced thousands of rules and guidelines that have prevented millions of deaths in workplaces across the U.S. The agency, and the act that created it, have served as a model for countless other countries around the world, many of which have since eclipsed the U.S. standards when it comes to protecting their workers.
“This Workers’ Memorial Day, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few moments to remember those we’ve lost this year and to lift up their families and loved ones,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.
“But as we mourn, we also have so many reasons to be hopeful. The past year has seen far too much death and suffering brought on by this terrible pandemic, but as the cloud of COVID-19 begins to lift, we are grateful to have officials in government here in the U.S. and in Canada who are absolutely committed to putting worker safety first.
“That starts with Brother Marty Walsh, the first union member to be confirmed as Labor Secretary in generations. With Marty at the helm of the Labor Department and new leadership on the way at OSHA, working people are set to make enormous gains when it comes to workplace safety. We thank President Biden for appointing leaders like Marty who understand what it means to work hard on a dangerous job every day, and we look forward to the positive impact they will make for working families,” Stephenson said.
“The same goes for our sisters and brothers in Canada, whose safety on the job has been greatly improved by six years under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s leadership and pro-worker stewardship at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.”
OSHA will host a virtual memorial program on its website at 2 p.m. today to remember the lives tragically cut short on the job this past year.
“Today, we remember, but we also recommit to working safely and to speaking up when unsafe working conditions threaten us or our sisters and brothers on the job,” Stephenson said. “There is no higher calling for a union or its members than making sure each of us returns home safely at the end of the workday.”