Sunday, April 28, 2013

Workers Memorial Day

If you walked up to 100 people today and asked them if they knew what today was,  I would be surprised if you would even have one that knew it was Workers Memorial Day.

This is a crying shame when one looks at recent events.

MIT police officer Sean Collier was killed by the Boston bombers.

In West, Texas, at least 14 people were killed - most of them were first responders - when a fertilizer plant exploded.  The explosion happened due to an inordinate amount of highly volatile ammonium nitrate on site.  The company didn't bother to even notify anyone that it was such a large powder keg.  To make it worse, the plant hadn't been inspected in years.

In Bangladesh, hundreds of lives were lost when a building collapsed.  Bosses ordered the workers back to the job even though cracks were seen in the building and the police ordered an evacuation.  This tragedy comes just a few months after another huge loss of life due to a fire in a clothing factory that serves companies like Walmart.

Closer to home, an employee of the University of Wisconsin, Kenneth J. Newman, 63, was killed when a lift fell on him.

In the United States, 13 people are killed each and every single day due to workplace accidents.  The vast majority of these deaths are preventable and are caused by the continuing deregulation of workplace safety and companies cutting corners to increase their profit margins.

Equally sad is the fact that there are hardly any commemorations of the day.  There was a time when unions and public officials would a small ceremony to honor those that had fallen.  But with the rampant austerity and the scarcity of money for anyone who is not already filthy rich, I am aware of only one such commemoration in all of Wisconsin and that's in La Crosse.

So before you start up the grill, go to the park, take that bike ride or whatever activity you have planned, please take a moment and think of those who went to work one day and never returned home to their families.

And then please remember and recommit to the words of Mother Jones and fight to bring back worker rights to this state and to this country.

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