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Workers Memorial Day 2021: ‘Renew The Promise - Safe Jobs For All’

Published Thursday, April 29, 2021
by United Steelworkers News
Workers Memorial Day 2021: ‘Renew The Promise - Safe Jobs For All’

Fifty years ago on April 28th, Workers Memorial Day - the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect, promising every Worker the right to a safe job.

The law was won because of the tireless efforts of the Labor Movement, which organized for safer working conditions and demanded government action.

Unions and its allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality - winning protections that have made jobs safer and saved lives.

But the Labor Movement’s work is not done.

Each year, thousands of Workers are killed and millions suffer injury or illness because of dangerous working conditions.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has highlighted the inextricable link between workplace safety and health and our communities.

The virus has killed more than 500,000 people in this country so far - devastating Working Families, with a disproportionate impact on People of Color.

Unions stepped up to demand and win job protections from this highly-contagious virus.

Labor organized for safe jobs and the right to speak out against unsafe working conditions.

Unions also demanded access to the ventilation, respirators and other measures that protect Workers from inhaling the virus at work.

Given the lack of Federal action under the Trump Administration, Unions won protections in states and held state and local leaders accountable.

Organized Labor and its allies were key to strengthening job safety to save lives.

The popularity of Unions is currently at 65% - one of the highest marks since the OSHA Act was implemented in 1971 - and 60 million Non-Union Workers say they would vote for a voice on the job today.

That is why America’s Labor Movement is leading the campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would give all Workers who want to form a Union a fair path to do so.

Strong Unions hold employers and the government accountable to keep Workers safe.

Strong Unions raise the baseline level of job safety protections for all

The COVID-19 Pandemic exposed the lack of resources and accountability for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to ensure Workers are protected on the job, as well as the structural failures that have prevented Workers from organizing for safer working conditions.

Workplace Safety Agencies have been hollowed out with a reduction in Staff and a stagnant budget.

Many Workers never see OSHA in their workplace.

Penalties are too low to be a deterrent.

Workers are not adequately protected to speak out against unsafe working conditions and to join a Union without retaliation.

As we all look to the next 50 years of National Worker Protections, Congress must strengthen Workplace Safety Agencies to renew their promise to Working People, and issue life-saving protections against workplace violence, infectious diseases, heat illness, silica in mining and toxic chemicals - preventable hazards that kill tens of thousands of Workers each year.

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