Unions remember fallen workers

More than 324,000 workers now can say their lives have been saved since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970. Unfortunately, too many workers remain at risk. On an average day, 152 people lose their lives as a result of workplace injuries and diseases, and another 11,780 are injured, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unions of the AFL-CIO remember these workers on April 28 — Workers Memorial Day.

In Oregon, a memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 28, at Tabor Heights United Methodist Church, 6161 SE Stark St., Portland. The memorial is coordinated by the Northwest Oregon Labor Council.

Last year, 53 workers were killed on the job in Oregon, according to records by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA) and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. (See Page 8 for a list of those workers and their occupations.)

At the memorial service in Portland, OR-OSHA Administrator Michael Wood and others will read aloud the names of the workers killed. A bell will toll in their honor as a member of the audience raises an American flag.

“Each name represents a family that lost a loved and valued member,” said Wood. “These men and women have paid the ultimate cost in the pursuit of financial security for themselves and their family. Workers Memorial Day provides a moment for us to remember each of them and their sacrifice. The value of Workers Memorial Day is to remember we have not reached a stopping point; we cannot truly say the task of making workplaces safer is ever finished.”

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski will sign a proclamation declaring April 28 as Workers Memorial Day in the state, and Oregon Congresswoman Darlene Hooley will read the names of the victims into the Congressional Record.

The first Workers Memorial Day was observed in 1989. It is held on April 28 because on that date in 1970, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A similar remembrance also takes place in Canada the same day. Everyone is invited to the Portland ceremony.

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