Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, President Jimmy Hart Special Message… Observance of Workers’ Memorial Day

“Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” or some variation thereof has been used as a rallying cry in the labor movement and the slogan surrounding Workers Memorial Day for decades. Attributed to Mother Jones, who was said to have told a group of miners in 1902, “Your organization is not a praying institution. It’s a fighting institution. It’s an educational institution along industrial lines. Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!”

Today, the labor movement observes Workers Memorial Day on the anniversary of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Since its passage, safety has become a fundamental right. But as we all know, far too many workers are still being injured and killed on the job.

North America’s Metal Trades workforce toil at some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. And while the Metal Trades Department, its Councils, and our affiliated international unions work hard to ensure that all workers come home safely at the end of the day, there are still unnecessary injuries and fatalities on worksites throughout the nation.

The American labor movement must continue to lead the fight for more oversight, real penalties, and proper staffing at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). We need to hold Congress and the administration accountable for strengthening the mission, oversight, and authority of all government agencies and provide them with the resources necessary to ensure that all working people have safe jobs.

The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and its affiliates are committed to promoting and ensuring that action on critical safety and health protections against preventable hazards: infectious diseases, heat illness, workplace violence, and exposure to silica and other toxins that kill tens of thousands of workers each year are implemented, maintained and improved.

Together we must use our collective voices to win stronger safety and health protections!

Today we observe Workers Memorial Day, but each day is one where workers and their unions must continue to vigorously fight like hell for the living and not rest until that special day arrives where we no longer must mourn for the injured and dead.

May God Bless and always keep safe the working men and women of our nation and the world.