What is Workers Memorial Day?
On April 28, 1971, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality — winning protections that have made jobs safer and have prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses.
But our work is not done. Many job hazards are unregulated and uncontrolled. Some employers cut corners and violate the law. Workers who report job hazards or job injuries are fired or disciplined. Employers contract out dangerous work to try to avoid responsibility. As a result, each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs.
So, every year on April 28, the United Steelworkers observes Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our fight for safe workplaces.
This year we pledge to:
- Defend safety and health protections and rights from industry attacks.
- Require employers to find and fix hazards and implement a worksite safety and health program, with full worker participation, to prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths.
- Advocate for stronger workplace safeguards for combustible dust, workplace violence and infectious disease.
- Prohibit employer policies and practices that discourage reporting of workplace injuries.
- Increase attention to the safety and health of Latino and immigrant workers who are at much greater risk of death and injury.
- Support the passing of the Protecting America’s Workers Act (PAWA) to ensure all workers have OSHA protection; stronger criminal and civil penalties for companies that seriously violate job safety laws; and improved anti-retaliation protections for workers who raise job safety concerns.
- Ensure workers’ rights to have a voice on the job, and to freely choose to join a union without employer interference or intimidation.
It is time to organize, take action and speak out for safe jobs for workers!
Here’s what you can do:
- Organize a rally to demand creation of safe jobs in your community.
- Hold a candlelight vigil, memorial service or moment of silence to remember those who have died on the job and highlight job safety problems at workplaces in your community.
- Fly the flag at half-staff for the day and lay a wreath at the flag pole or plant entry.
- Conduct workshops to empower workers to report job safety hazards and exercise workplace rights. Invite union members, nonunion workers and community allies to participate.
- Create a memorial at a workplace or in a community where workers have been killed on the job.
- Hold a public meeting with members of Congress in their districts. Bring injured workers and family members who can talk firsthand about the need for strong safety and health protections, and the freedom to join a union. Invite local religious leaders and other allies to participate in the meeting.
- Invite the press to your Workers Memorial Day events to increase public awareness of the dangers workers face on the job.
- Click here for more ideas.
For more resources, including flyers in English and Spanish, visit the AFL-CIO’s website.