On Workers Memorial Day, April 28th, the New Jersey State AFL-CIO remembers the working men and women who suffered injuries on the job and whose lives were needlessly cut short due to workplace hazards and inadequate safety precautions. We think of these workers’ families and the unfathomable pain and economic hardship that follow the loss of a loved one. Every worker should be able to go to work with the confidence that they will return safely home to their family at the end of the day.
This Workers Memorial Day, we once again renew our struggle to reduce workplace hazards and the negligence that has resulted in tragic and irreversible loss for countless families in New Jersey, in our country, and around the world. While our country has made significant progress in reducing workplace injury and death over the years, we are constantly reminded that our job is far from finished.
Just a couple of weeks ago on April 17, 2013, a deadly blast at a Texas fertilizer plant took the lives of 14 people. It is apparent that insufficient oversight and negligence are to blame. Even more recently, on April 24, 2013, a building, which housed a number of garment factories in Bangladesh, collapsed, leaving at least 238 people dead. Police had ordered a building evacuation the day before the collapse after detecting visible cracks in the structure. Some employers however, chose to defy the order and 2,000 people had to keep working. This outrageous behavior is nothing less than criminal.
Each and every day in this country, an average of 13 workers die on the job as a result of workplace hazards. Here in New Jersey, approximately 41 workers were killed on the job in 2012. Because of a strong union presence in New Jersey, our state consistently has one of the lowest injury rates in the nation. Reducing workplace hazards is by no means an easy task, but the need to act is imperative.
On Workers Memorial Day, let us continue to uphold the timeless words of Mother Jones: “Mourn for the dead, but fight like hell for the living!”