Unions to remember fallen workers

Thirty-six Oregonians died on the job in 2011. Two were working out-of-state at the time of their mishaps; one is a missing crab fisherman presumed dead. Another 16 workers died on the job from heart attacks or other heart ailments. They aren’t included in the count. The full list is here.

To honor these workers, the Oregon AFL-CIO and Northwest Oregon Labor Council will hold memorial services the last week of April.

The Oregon AFL-CIO’s observance is at noon, Thursday, April 26, at the Fallen Workers Memorial outside the Labor and Industries Building, 350 Winter St. NE, on the Capitol Mall in Salem. The service will feature the reading of the names of the Oregon workers who died on the job in 2011, along with the names of Oregonians killed in military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Michael Wood, administrator of the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Oregon AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Barbara Byrd, will be among the speakers at the ceremony. On Monday, April 23, the Northwest Oregon Labor Council will hold a memorial service at its monthly delegates meeting. The service will include a presentation of colors by the Oregon Military Funeral Honors Program. Wood will be the keynote speaker. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at  the IBEW Local 48 Hall, 15937 NE Airport Way, Portland.

Both services are part of the national AFL-CIO’s Workers Memorial Day, which recognizes the thousands of U.S. workers who die each year  and the more than 1 million who are injured each year at work.  The observance is traditionally held on April 28 because that is the date in 1970 that Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“Workers Memorial Day is an important opportunity to set aside the statistics for a moment and focus on the individuals,” said Wood. “Whether rates go up or go down, each of the names we read at the ceremony is an individual tragedy, involving real people with real hopes and dreams for the future. It’s those real stories that give the day meaning.”

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