Worker safety is one of the most important aspects of being a union member and on Wednesday, April 28, we remember those who died too soon. The IAM will honor 40 fallen members in its annual Workers’ Memorial Day Ceremony, held at the William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Hollywood, Md. This year, the event will be private due to physical distancing precautions amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but a recording will be available afterward.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect a little more than 50 years ago, after unions drew attention to work-related deaths, disease and injuries. We organized and demanded safer working conditions, resulting in more than 627,000 workers’ lives being saved since the act passed.
Those efforts continue today, as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic with greater access to personal protective equipment, paid leave and hazard pay, especially when we negotiate those benefits into union contracts.
Each year, more than 5,000 workers die from job injuries and 95,000 die from work-related illnesses. Working together, we can reduce those numbers, to save even more lives. Passing the PRO Act would help to make that reduction a reality because workplaces are safer when workers have a voice on the job. Workers in right-to-work states are in greater danger of injury, illness and death. In 2019, the job fatality rate was 37% greater than in states without these harmful laws.
Canada marks its Day of Mourning on the same day.