CWA members will join workers around the nation next Saturday in remembering those who've died or been seriously injured on the job.
April 20, 2012
Across the country, events highlighting workplace safety will mark Workers Memorial Day, which coincides with the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's founding on April 28. Workers will hold memorial services for those who have lost their lives and call on elected officials for strong workplace protections. CWAers will participate in events that include:
* Just before Workers Memorial Day, Senate Democrats are expected to call a hearing about strengthening OSHA with resources, dollars and personnel, said CWA OSHA Director Dave LeGrande.
* NYCOSH will award its 2012 Karen Silkwood honor to John Gentile, vice president of CWA Local 1103. Named for the union activist, who died under mysterious circumstances after investigating health and safety issues at her plutonium processing plant, the award acknowledges courageous individuals who tell the truth about workers' rights. "It's well deserved," said LeGrande. "John is the most ardent supporter of CWA efforts concerning health and safety. He's not concerned about asking the hard questions and doing the hard work."
* In California, SoCalCOSH, together with more than 250 community members, will gather at the UCLA Downtown Labor Center and bring attention to the tragic death of UPTE-CWA Local 9119 member Sheri Sangji, a 23-year-old UCLA research associate who suffered extensive burns in a horrific lab fire in 2009. Just last week, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted a final request to delay the arraignment of her chemistry professor and the UC Board of Regents.
* MassCOSH, Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Greater Boston Labor Council will issue a report on workplace fatalities in the state outside the Massachusetts State House.
Click here for a fact sheet and more information on events you can organize for Workers' Memorial Day.
In 2009, 4,340 workers died on the job -- at an average of 12 workers every day -- and about 50,000 were killed by occupational diseases, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the BLS's report of more than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses is far from an accurate record of workplace hazards. Many workers fail to file reports with their facilities, while management persuades employees that their injuries are just not worth reporting, according to the 2011 edition of the AFL-CIO report, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.". Researchers estimate the true injury and illness toll is two to three times greater -- 8 million to 12 million each year.