COSH Network e-newsletter: Workers' Memorial Day Recap

8/8/13 10:43 AM

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COSH Network E-Newsletter: March 2013

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In This Issue:
Overview of Workers' Memorial Week of Action activities from National COSH's perspective Recap of COSH groups' Workers' Memorial Week of Action events and media coverage Updates on Workers' Memorial Week of Action events and coverage from allies across the country Keeping momentum going after Workers' Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Week of Action -- 2013 Recap of Activities and Coverage
It's official! Workers' Memorial Week of Action was a huge success! During Workers’ Memorial Week of Action, which spanned April 22-28, workplace safety advocates, workers’ centers, unions, faith-based groups, and other activists across the country held events, released reports, and shared stories of workers who have been injured or killed on the job.

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COSH Network e-newsletter: Workers' Memorial Day Recap

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Reports were released by National COSH, MassCOSH, and Worksafe in conjunction with SoCalCOSH, not to mention reports in North Carolina and Tennessee. In addition, National COSH developed infographics and led a Twitterstorm depicting the prevalence of worker fatalities and who is most affected by them. The organization also kept busy throughout the week giving many interviews to the media, with coverage from NPR, the Center for Public Integrity, New York Public Radio, NBC News, and In These Times, among other outlets. Throughout the week of action, National COSH highlighted the stories of workers killed on the job and compiled the stories in an online story bank. (Email Dorry to add more stories.) In its report, “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities,” National COSH details several recommendations for keeping workers safe on the job. Click here to read them. “Each worker killed is a tragic loss to the community of family, friends and co-workers – and the worst part is, these deaths were largely preventable,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of National COSH. “Simply by following proven safety practices and complying with OSHA standards, many of these more than 4,600 deaths could have been avoided. But as companies decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety, workers pay the ultimate price.”

COSH Group Activity and Coverage for Workers' Memorial Week of Action
NH COSH

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COSH Network e-newsletter: Workers' Memorial Day Recap

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At NH COSH's Workers’ Memorial Day event, Gov. Maggie Hassan met with family members of workers killed on the job, and even issued a gubernatorial proclamation declaring April 28 as Workers’ Memorial Day in the state of New Hampshire (see photo to the right). More pictures are available here.

MassCOSH
In Massachusetts, MassCOSH released a report and held an event in front of the State House. Click here for more information and to see media coverage. Here are pictures from the Massachusetts event. “Although the number of Massachusetts workers killed every year varies, the number of individuals who succumb to occupational diseases consistently remains in the hundreds, often on par with those killed in car accidents,” said the report’s co-author Marcy GoldsteinGelb, executive director of MassCOSH. “This report helps shine a spotlight on this silent epidemic and what must be done to protect ourselves and our co-workers who are simply attempting to make a living.”

ConnectiCOSH
Several events were held across the state of Connecticut to commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day. In Bridgeport, 100 attendees including first responders, labor, city and state leaders and families of the victims gathered to remember the construction workers killed at L'Ambiance Plaza 26 years ago. All the victims’ names were read and a bell was tolled to remember them. In Groton, nearly 200 participants attended the Southeastern Connecticut Labor Council and AFL-CIO Community Services Worker Memorial Day event. Participants lit a memorial candle, played taps, and placed wreaths to honor fallen workers. In Hartford, more than 100 people attended an event that touched on the horror of Sandy Hook, the aftermath of issues, and the need for increased security of schools. And in New Britain, more than 30 people attended an event that called on union members to push their elected representatives to properly fund OSHA so that it can better police workplace safety.

NYCOSH
In New York, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler joined NYCOSH, the New York City Central Labor
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Council, and the New York City Labor Religion Coalition at a parking garage where a parking attendant drowned during Superstorm Sandy. It garnered media coverage from WBAI and NY1.

PhilaPOSH:
At a Workers’ Memorial Day event in Philadelphia, PhilaPOSH convened nearly 300 people – activists, lawmakers, and family members whose loved ones were killed or injured on the job – and held a procession through the streets of the City of Brotherly Love. Award-winning labor photojournalist Earl Dotter was in attendance and snapped many powerful photographs (coming soon).

CACOSH
On April 28, the Labor Research Action Network brought together union activists, worker center organizers, labor researchers, and students to share examples of innovative laboracademic collaborations concerning worker health and safety. The event was held at Chicago's Historic Hull House, a national symbol of the fight for immigrant and low wage workers' rights for more than 100 years. The program opened with a moving testimonial from Chicago Area Coalition on Safety and Health (CACOSH) representative Emanuel Blackwell, who shared his own experience of working with asbestos and the devastating toll it had taken on unprotected co-workers. Lisa Sciolaro, the OSHA Region 5 Labor Liaison, highlighted the many types of Worker Memorial Day events taking place around the country and paid tribute to the families of those who have lost a loved one due to dangerous working conditions. After a moment of silence, labor activists and researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago described jointly created projects in hazardous industries and strategies for dealing with them: Nik Theodore of UIC's College of Urban Planning and Myrla Baldonado of Latino Union and Chicago Coalition of Household Workers on a national survey revealing the precarious condition of domestic workers laboring without the safeguards of workplace regulation. Marsha Love of UIC's School of Public Health and Traci Myers, a homecare and active member of SEIU, on a program to prevent back injuries in the fast growing home care industry.
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Janise Hurtig of UIC's College of Education and Belinda Thielen of UFCW's Health & Safety Department on applying popular education strategies to workplace health and safety programs in the meatpacking and poultry processing industries.

SoCalCOSH
Out in Los Angeles, a Workers’ Memorial Day event got coverage in ABC News, as well as in La Opinion. "Some people say regulations kill jobs, but we know that they save jobs," Andrea Nicholls of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor told ABC/Univision. "We must all must work together to press for more inspectors, stronger regulation, tougher fines for employers and better protections for whistleblowers who suffer retaliation from employers." Added Shirley “Sumaq” Alvarado, "Immigrant workers face disproportionate workplace hazards and dangers. That's because they're over represented in the most dangerous industries.”

Worksafe
The folks at Worksafe issued its third annual report, “Dying at Work in California,” in commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day, which shares the stories that often go unheard when we hear statistics about worker injuries and fatalities.

Other Workers' Memorial Week of Action Activities and Coverage
New York:
In Schenectady, N.Y., a Workers’ Memorial Day event that featured family members of fallen workers garnered front-page placement in the Albany Daily Gazette. Here are more photos from the extremely moving event. In Western New York, a Workers' Memorial Day event paid a special tribute to a fallen
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Buffalo police officer, and a woman gunned down by her ex-boyfriend while at work, which was covered by WKBW.

North Carolina:
North Carolina’s event and state report – which found that far more workers die on the job in North Carolina than the state reports – was featured in the Charlotte Observer.

Tennessee:
In Tennessee, graduate students at East Tennessee State University wrote issue briefs this semester which were used in the first ever public interest report on job fatalities in Tennessee, timed for release on Workers’ Memorial Day. Public events, organized by community and labor partners on this project, were held around the state last weekend. Here's a link to coverage from WBIR and to video of a Knoxville, Tenn., event.

Nebraska:
Nebraska activists held a vigil for workers killed on the job, which appeared in coverage from the Lincoln Journal Star.

Illinois:
In Illinois, a Workers’ Memorial Day event was covered in The Telegraph.

Texas:
Austin: In Austin, Texas, Rep. Ana Hernandez Luna, Rep. Armando Walle, and Labor Commissioner Ronnie Congleton, as well as leaders from the faith community and labor movement, filled the capitol rotunda with song and prayers for working Texans. See more photos here. Houston: In Houston, Texas, more than 60 community members, workers, family members affected, and local officials held a vigil for International Workers’ Memorial Day on Saturday, April 27th, to honor the 56 workers that died on their workplace due to unsafe conditions in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area in 2012. Injured workers and relatives of workers who have died shared their stories and called for stronger regulations and protections for all working people. Additionally, Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) gave a bilingual speech to the crowd in which she promised she would continue the fight for increased workplace safety measures.

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The event featured the following visuals: Work boots with flowers to represent the 56 workers who died on the job in 2012 in the Houston area, participants joined in prayer and released balloons (28 balloons with 2 names each) symbolizing the 56 lives lost in accidents last year, and an altar de muertos. (Click here for pictures!) See coverage from the Houston Chronicle, Univision 45 and SemanaNews.

Network Update: Keeping Momentum Going
After a great month of COSH groups and allies across the country raising awareness of workers' health and safety during Workers' Memorial Week of Action, it is imperative that we keep this momentum going. We must keep working together to ensure that workers' health and safety stays in the spotlight throughout the year, not just during this one concentrated period. Many groups are starting to convene with new COSH activity across the country, and National COSH is committed to supporting their efforts. It is also time to begin planning our National Worker Safety and Health Conference, which will take place on December 11-12, 2013. Have any ideas for topics to cover or workshops to lead? Let us know! Finally, National COSH is in the midst of planning its new national campaign. Stay tuned for more details soon! As always, thank you for all you do.

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