Events, Labor — April 26, 2014 at 8:25 am

EVENT: Michigan remembers its fallen workers with vigil and march on Monday, April 28 – Workers Memorial Day


Monday, April 28th, 2014 is Workers Memorial Day, a day to remember the men and women in our country who have given their lives for their jobs. Millions of people are impacted every year, either through job-related illness or death.

On that day, the Michigan AFL-CIO is holding a silent vigil followed by a march to commemorate those who have perished or suffered injuries or illness on the job and to call on Congress to create safe jobs for all working people.

From the organizers:

Workers continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals like silica, and serious safety hazards like combustible dust and workplace violence. Injured workers and relatives of workers who have lost their lives on the job will share their stores and renew the fight for stronger protections for all working people. Participants will note the Obama administration’s work to strengthen Occupational Safety and Health Administration protections for workers, call out Republican legislators and big businesses who are trying to roll back regulations and block new safeguards that are needed to make sure our loved one are safe at work.

The vigil begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Mariners’ Church, 170 E. Jefferson Ave in Detroit. Similar events are being held all across the country.

Yesterday, President Obama signed this Proclamation proclaiming that Monday is Workers Memorial Day:

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America is built on the promise of opportunity. We believe that everyone should have a chance to succeed, that what matters is the strength of our work ethic, the scope of our dreams, and our willingness to take responsibility for ourselves and each other. Yet each year, workplace illness and injury threaten that promise for millions of Americans, and even more tragically, thousands die on the job. This is unacceptable. On Workers Memorial Day, we honor those we have lost, and in their memory, affirm everyone’s right to a safe workplace.

With grit and determination, the American labor force has propelled our Nation through times of hardship and war, and it laid the foundation for tremendous economic growth. Workers risked life and limb to turn the gears of the Industrial Revolution, raise our first skyscrapers, and lay railroad track that connected our country from coast to coast. The injured, as well as families of the dead, received little or no compensation.

It was only after decades of organizing, unionizing, and public pressure that workers won many of the rights we take for granted today. Finally, with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the Federal Government required employers to provide basic safety equipment. Just 1 year prior, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 established comprehensive safety and health standards for coal mines, increased Federal enforcement powers, and provided compensation to miners with black lung.

My Administration remains dedicated to building on this progress. We are improving standards to protect workers from black lung and reduce their exposure to dangerous substances. We are helping employers provide safe workplaces and holding those who risk workers’ lives and health accountable. And we are empowering workers with information so they can stay safe on the job.

We must never accept that injury, illness, or death is the cost of doing business. Workers are the backbone of our economy, and no one’s prosperity should come at the expense of their safety. Today, let us celebrate our workers by upholding their basic right to clock out and return home at the end of each shift.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2014, as Workers Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.