Worker's Memorial Day 2008

We Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living

The day was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the passage of legislation establishing OSHA. Similar observances are held in Canada and by International trade unionists.

   On Workers Memorial Day in Minnesota, a garden of stones is dedicated in memory of the 31 workers who have lost their lives while building and maintaining Minnesota’s roads and bridges.  Last year, construction worker Greg Jolstad was killed in the 35W bridge collapse. 

“We mourn the dead and fight for the living,” said AFSCME Council 5 Director Eliot Seide.  “We will take collective action to ensure that every worker has the proper equipment, procedures, training, staffing, and conditions necessary to prevent injuries and death.  A life in public service is a valuable life worth remembering and protecting.”  

During his first day as MnDOT’s new commissioner, Tom Sorel (right) honors Local 2792’s Tom Woller (center) for his dedication to improving work zone safety for workers at MnDOT’s Cedar Truck Station.

Workday Minnesota has a poignant story, Crossing One Bridge at a Time by Michael Kuchta. This report relates the experience of Rob Baily, a union carpenter, who was working on  the I35 bridge prior to the collapse. He lost a union brother and others were injured. Baily still has a hard time dealing with the events of that day, but is now working on the construction of the new bridge. As we observe this day we remember the fallen workers and the sick and injured workers

As Minnesotans prepare to honor workers who were killed on the job, the national AFL-CIO today released a report saying that US work places are becoming increasingly dangerous. According to the report, 5,840 US workers, 78 of them Minnesotans, died from workplace injuries in 2006. Ceremonies were held on Monday in Duluth, Minneapolis, Roseville and Apple Valley to honor Minnesota workers who were killed on the job in 2007. 

More Information from the AFL/CIO.

Workers Memorial Day has been observed each year since Congress passed the Occupational Safety & Health Act in 1988. This week, the AFL-CIO released the 17th edition of the annual report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect. The report includes national and state-by-state profiles on worker safety and health in the United States.

Workers Memorial Day Poems and Tributes