April 28th is Workers Memorial Day, where unions around the world remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces. This has the potential of being a special Workers Memorial Day -- it follows the mine disasters earlier this year that revealed the bankruptcy of our workplace safety agencies -- and it's an election year.
The AFL-CIO is the lead organizer in the United States, but it's up to you to organize or join local events:
Within just a few weeks' time, the disasters at the Sago mine and five other mines claimed the lives of 18 miners. These tragedies focused the nation's attention on the dangers faced by workers and the weakness in job safety protections. But the Sago disaster was not an isolated event. Before this year is over, thousands of more workers will be killed on the job and millions will be injured or diseased.
But unfortunately, rather than addressing the serious safety and health problems faced by workers, at the urging of corporate interests, the Bush Administration and conservative Republicans, have moved to rollback and weaken protections. Since 2001, the Administration has blocked or withdrawn dozens of important safety rules, including a number of measures that may have prevented the recent mine tragedies. Voluntary compliance has been favored over issuing new protective standards and enforcement. Industry officials have been put in charge of government safety programs.
In the Congress, Republican leaders have ignored calls to strengthen the mine safety law, and instead are pushing legislation that would gut OSHA enforcement.
Events are also being organized around the world. Check out the Hazards Workers Memorial Day website for more information.
So let's get organized and invite those politicians to your events. Make them earn your votes by sponsoring and working for the Protecting America’s Workers Act (S944 and HR2004), or explaining to you why they're not. (Right now the bills only have 5 cosponsors in the House and 10 in the Senate. Go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ for more information on the bills' status.)