According to the AFL-CIO, “Each and every day in this country, on average 12 workers die on the job as a result of workplace injuries – women and men who go to work, never to return home to their families and loved ones. In 2010, 4,500 workers lost their lives on the job, and another 50,000 died from occupational diseases. That’s a total of 149 workers dying each and every day.
New and emerging hazards like pandemic flu and other infectious diseases threaten health care workers. And budget cut backs put the safety of our firefighters, police, corrections officers and other public employees at risk, cutting staff, increasing the threat of violence, and failing to provide needed equipment.
For eight years, the Bush Administration turned its back on workers and workplace safety. Siding with its corporate friends, the Administration overturned or blocked dozens of important workplace protections and weakened job safety programs.
But thankfully, now we have a president that is committed to worker safety and health and is on workers’ side.
The Obama administration has moved forward to strengthen protections with tougher enforcement on serious violator, particularly employers who repeatedly violate the law and proposed new safeguards for workplace hazards.
Business groups oppose these stronger measures. The Republican majority in Congress is doing businesses’ bidding and trying to block new protections and roll back existing protections. They have launched an all-out assault on all government regulations and safeguards. They are trying to slash the job safety budget and weaken enforcement.
Republicans and business groups are falsely claiming that these regulations and protections kill jobs. The fact is it is these regulations and protections keep jobs and employers from killing workers.
The real goal of the Republicans and business groups is to take away workers’ rights and weaken the role of government in protecting workers and the public. It’s just like the attack on collective bargaining and worker rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and other states. These attacks threaten the economic security and safety of all workers.
Just as we are fighting back against the assault on the right of workers’ to bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and working conditions, we must fight back against the assault on workers’ safety and health rights and protections.
We must educate, mobilize and organize union members and join with our allies in our communities to stop these efforts to turn back the clock. We can’t allow corporations, driven by greed, to go unchecked and put workers in danger.
On this Workers Memorial Day, we remember and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives on the job or have been injured or made sick.
On this Workers Memorial Day, we call for an end to the unnecessary deaths of our brothers and sisters and action on job hazards that kill and injure and stronger job safety laws and protections for all workers.
On this day, we pledge to fight for good jobs that will provide economic security and opportunity for our fellow citizens and rebuild our nation.
And on this day, we commit to work together to fight the assault on workers’ right to bargain for fairer workplaces, safer workplaces, a better life and a brighter future.”
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