(April 19, 2017) — Each year on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, working people throughout the world remember those who were hurt or killed on the job, and renew the struggle for safe workplaces. In the coming days, several Workers Memorial Day commemorations are planned throughout Washington state, including tonight in Seattle. (See the list below.)
These events are especially important in 2017 as hard-won gains in workplace safety and health standards are now threatened by the Trump administration’s all-out assault on “regulations.”
For example, after years of struggle new rules were finally established to protect workers from deadly silica dust and beryllium, a tougher coal dust standard for miners, and stronger anti-retaliation protections for workers who report job injuries. All of these gains are on the chopping block after the president ordered that for every new protection, two existing safeguards must be removed from the books. At the same time, Republicans in Congress are also moving quickly to overturn rules issued by the Obama administration. Agency budgets and enforcement programs are on the chopping block.
“The safety and health of workers and the public are in danger,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. “We must fight back. We cannot and will not let them turn back the clock and destroy the progress we have made to make jobs safer and save lives.”
Johnson said that work includes “honoring the memory of workers who died on the job or due to work-related illnesses, and their families, as we rededicate ourselves to preserving and improving workplace safety and health.”
Several Workers Memorial Day events are planned throughout Washington state:
SEATTLE — Wednesday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. — A presentation on the dangers of silica dust will be followed by a Workers Memorial Day vigil at the regular delegates meeting of the M.L. King County Labor Council, AFL-CIO, at the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave. For details, call the council at 206-441-8510.
SPOKANE — Saturday, April 22 at 11 a.m. — The Spokane Regional Labor Council, AFL-CIO will host its annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration at Mission Park in Spokane. Get details.
EVERETT — Wednesday, April 26 at 5 p.m. — The Snohomish County Labor Council, AFL-CIO will host its annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration in the Mission Courtyard at the County Courthouse, at the corner of Wetmore and Pacific. Speakers will include WSLC President Jeff Johnson, County Councilman Brian Sullivan and Mayor Ray Stephanson. For details, call the council at 425-259-7922.
SEATTLE — Thursday, April 27 at 11:30 a.m. — The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington will hold a Workers Memorial Day event from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Husky Union Building, Lyceum (first floor) at UW in Seattle. Free and open to the public, the keynote speaker will be Rais Bhuiyan, Founder and President of World Without Hate. WSLC President Jeff Johnson will also speak. Get details.
TUMWATER — Thursday, April 27 at 2 p.m. — The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries hosts its Workers Memorial Day ceremony to honor those who have died in the previous year from job-related injuries or illnesses. All are invited to attend this year’s event at L&I’s Tumwater HQ, 7273 Linderson Way SW. Get details.
TACOMA/LAKEWOOD — Friday, April 28 at 11 a.m. — Washington Federation of State Employees Local 793 and the Pierce County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO will hold their annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration and barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Western State Hospital, 9601 Steilacoom Blvd. in Lakewood. For details, call 253-473-3810.
BELLINGHAM — Friday, April 28 at Noon — The Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO will host its annual Workers Memorial Day commemoration from noon to 1 p.m. at the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave. Get details.
For more information about Workers Memorial Day, visit the AFL-CIO website.