Worker's Memorial Day (2002-2004)


A Letter to the American Worker From John Kerry, In Honor of Workers Memorial Day:
“Our government’s policy should be that one death is too many. But unfortunately the Bush administration has turned its back on American workers and workplace safety—rolling back standards, shortchanging enforcement and blocking dozens of new protections,” Sen. John Kerry writes. John Kerry's Letter to the American Worker

Memorial Plaque - St. Paul: A plaque honoring Donald Junemann, a housing inspector who was shot to death on Christmas Eve 1997, was dedicated during the summer of 1999. Junemann, 56, was on the job taking photographs at a trash-ridden home when he was shot from behind with a .22-caliber rifle. His killer was sentenced to life in prison. Junemann had been a member of AFSCME Local 1842 (Council 14) for more than two decades. The memorial—a raised brass plaque bearing Junemann's image—was made possible in part through donations from AFSCME Locals 1842 (Technical Employees), 2508 (Clerical Employees) and 3757 (Attorneys and Clerks). The plaque overlooks Como Park Lake. The city and county's public health building was renamed in his honor and dedicated on Oct. 24, 1999.

Workers Memorial Garden Funding in Jeopardy: State funding for a proposed Workers Memorial Garden at the State Capitol is at risk during the Legislature's battles over the state bonding bill.

The campaign to create a State Capitol Memorial honoring workers has been spearheaded by Dave Roe, Minnesota AFL-CIO President Emeritus. Roe says preliminary plans for the site include landscaped gardens, seating and a brick and stone memorial. "There's a (workers') history and we ought to be able to tell some of this history with the garden," Roe said.

The garden has federal funding, thanks to a grant secured by U.S. Representative Martin Sabo. Unions have also been generous with cash and in-kind contributions for the garden.

The next challenge is to make sure that the legislature passes a state bonding bill that includes the $400,000 for the Worker Memorial Garden.

You can help. Call Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, 651-296-3826, and Speaker of the House Steve Sviggum, 651-296-2273. Ask them to make sure funding for the Workers Memorial Garden remains in the state bonding bill.

Bush's Record on Workplace Safety - What's At Stake! Decades of struggles by workers and their unions have made workplaces safer. But the fight to protect workers is getting more difficult. The Bush administration has joined with business groups to roll back and block key worker protections-taking America in the wrong direction. In fact, the Bush administration has the worst record on safety rules in the entire history of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal workplace safety agency.

Here are the facts about Bush's record on workplace safety:

Bush killed workplace ergonomic protections. On March 20, 2001, President Bush signed legislation repealing the ergonomics standards designed to protect workers from repetitive motion and back injuries.

He rolled back or blocked dozens of workplace safety and health rules. In December 2001, the Bush administration announced the withdrawal of 29 rules that would have protected workers from serious hazards at work.

Bush administration favors employers over workers. The administration's fiscal year 2005 OSHA budget proposed cutting safety training programs for workers by 65 percent, while increasing funding for employer programs.

This week, on April 28, we observe Workers Memorial Day-a day to remember the millions of America's workers who are killed, maimed or injured on the job every year. Each year more than 60,000 workers die from job injuries and illnesses and another 6 million are injured. But President Bush is taking America down a path that would lead to more injuries and more deaths on the job.


APRIL 28, 2003

"Mourn for the dead. Fight like hell for the living" - Mother Jones

On April 28, AFSCME and other unions of the AFL-CIO observed Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have died or have been injured on the job. The first Workers Memorial Day was observed in 1989. April 28 was chosen as the date for Workers' Memorial Day because on this day in 1971 the Occupational Safety and Health Act OSHA was enacted. This legislation has literally saved lives by creating a federal agency that mandates safe and hazard-free workplaces. Decades of struggle by workers and their unions have resulted in significant improvements in working conditions. But the toll of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths remains enormous. Every American should be able to go to work and come home safe, sound and healthy at the end of the day.

According to the International Labour Organization, every year, around the world, two million workers die because of their jobs. 

Every single day of the year, more people die at work than died in the
terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. 

APRIL 28TH was a good day to think about these things.


AFSCME's Program

NOTE: The CFASD of Hennepin County reported a total of 24 cases of work-related injury and illness for 2002, resulting in a total of 71 days away from work for the employees impacted. There were no department work-related deaths in 2002.

The first workers’ compensation law, providing benefits for employees injured in the workplace, was enacted in Wisconsin.

Workers Memorial Day, April 28, 2002

On April 28, AFSCME and the other unions of the AFL/CIO observe Workers memorial Day to remember those who have died and suffered on the job. This Workers Memorial Day has special significance. More than 3,000 people were killed on September 11th at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in the airliner that crashed in Somerset, Pennsylvania. These tragedies occurred in workplaces, and over 600 of those who died were union members. Among the dead were 9 AFSCME members from District Council 37 and CSEA/AFSCME. Just weeks later, letters contaminated with anthrax caused further deaths and illness.

Workers and their employers have a heightened concern about safety and security as the result of these events. As we address these new threats, we must continue to press for protections against well known hazards. Each year, 6,000 people are killed at work, 50,000 die from occupational diseases and millions more are injured. Back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome and other disorders caused by ergonomic hazards injure and cripple more than 1.8 million workers each year and remain the nation's biggest job safety and health problem.

Public employees perform some of the most dangerous work in this country, and have among the highest rates of injuries. However, millions of state and local government workers are still not covered by this country's most basis job safety laws.

Meanwhile, as unions and our allies fight for safer workplace conditions, the Bush administration has has joined with business supporters to block or roll back needed worker protections.

On April 28, we will honor those who lost their lives on September 11th as well as the workers who were killed, injured and made ill on all the other days of the year. As we mourn for the dead, we will organize, mobilize and renew the struggle for safe jobs.

(Article compliments of AFSCME International)