Remembering fallen workers

At an April 28 Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Portland, Claudia Cook-Winkler (left) holds up a flag as the name of her son Benjamin Cool is read. Next to her is Benjamin’s sister, Anna Cool-MacRae.
At an April 28 Workers Memorial Day ceremony in Portland, Claudia Cook-Winkler (left) holds up a flag as the name of her son Benjamin Cool is read. Next to her is Benjamin’s sister, Anna Cool-MacRae.

PORTLAND — Northwest Oregon Labor Council held a Workers Memorial Day service April 28 before its monthly meeting — in which 39 flags were raised to honor the memory of workers killed on the job in Oregon in 2013.

To honor IBEW lineman Ben Cool, his mother Claudia Cook-Winkler traveled from Clarkston, Washington (near the Idaho border and Lewiston) to attend the ceremony, and sister Anna Cool-MacRae flew in from Las Vegas.

Cool, a 35-year-old lineman and member of IBEW Local 77 in Seattle, was electrocuted in a bucket lift truck July 30, 2013 while working on a transfer box at the Bonneville Power Substation in Gold Beach, Oregon. Cool lived in Lewiston, Idaho, but was working for Canby, Oregon-based Wilson Construction. He had a seven-year-old daughter.

“He wanted to be a lineman since he was 12. That’s all he wanted to do,” his mother told the Northwest Labor Press.

The Workers Memorial Day observance was one of hundreds conducted throughout the country by union members on April 28. The Oregon AFL-CIO held a service at the Fallen Workers Memorial outside the Labor and Industries Building on the Capitol Mall in Salem.

Thirty-nine workers died in job-related accidents in Oregon in 2013. Another 25 died of heart attacks, strokes or other ailments while at work.

Since 2003, the Oregon Occupational Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) Program has tracked over 600 work-related fatalities in Oregon caused by a traumatic injury. Nationally, 4,383 job-related deaths were recorded in 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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