I am pleased to report to you that April 28th has been officially designated Workers Memorial Day in the City of Elyria. On this day we come together to remember workers killed and injured on the job and renew the call for an end to the unnecessary deaths of our workers.
Over forty years ago, the first workplace safety laws were passed. Ever since that time, working men and women have struggled to improve conditions in the workplace. Virtually every safety and health protection on the books today is there because of working men and women who joined together to fight for these protections. And we continue the fight every day.
Look at the progress we have made! Because of these efforts, we have the Occupational Safety and Health Act and mine safety laws. We have Material Safety Data Sheets. We have stronger standards to protect workers from asbestos, benzene and other hazardous substances. We have increased workplace awareness and the ability to report hazards and unsafe conditions, free from retaliation by employers.
Workplace safety has come a long way. But despite these efforts, each and every day in this country, an average of 12 workers die on the job as a result of workplace injuries—women and men who go to work, never to return home to their families and loved ones. How many of you have lost a co-worker, friend or family member in a workplace injury?
Today, we remember all of them—those who have died and the millions who have been sickened or disabled because of their jobs. These tragedies and deaths were avoidable and we must continue to work to eliminate injuries and deaths in the workplace. We cannot allow employers to cut corners and put workers in harm’s way. These regulations and protections keep jobs and employers from killing workers. Worker safety is good for employees and good for business.
We must continue the fight. We cannot allow corporations, driven by greed, to put workers in danger, drive down wages and destroy our communities. We cannot allow politicians, driven by the lust for power, to ignore these needs as they pursue their own personal interests, ignoring the plight of the average worker. Many of them have forgotten who they are supposed to represent, or who supported them in the first place.
We must work with the media to keep these efforts alive and in the forefront of people’s minds and attention. We must vote out those in power who ignore these needs and replace them with those individuals who will support and protect the worker and the working class family.
Let us never forget.