HARRISBURG, Pa., April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania workers will be observing Workers' Memorial Day this week at events across Pennsylvania, as part of a nationwide call to legislators to make occupational safety a priority and to prioritize creating jobs, not waging war on workers, and dismantling the middle class, (go to www.paaflcio.org for list of events).
Labor and community leaders will be joined by elected officials in expressing their outrage at the lack of concern over lax safety enforcement and standards. Anti-worker politicians are chipping away at job safety through decreased funding to federal occupational safety agencies and attacks on collective bargaining agreements which in many states provide the only assurance of a safe workplace.
"Safety laws and regulations don't kill jobs – but unsafe jobs do kill workers," Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale declared. "Given our struggling economy today, politicians should be working hard to create good jobs, not endangering the lives of working people. We ask our elected officials to think twice about weakening the enforcement of job safety laws and about attacking workers' right to bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and safety standards," Bloomingdale said.
"The attacks on workers in other states and the growing threat here in Pennsylvania not only deprive workers of a voice on the job – they could threaten their health and safety on the job," Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder added. "In many cases collective bargaining is the most effective way for workers to raise safety concerns and demand employers protect workers from harm. Collective bargaining has helped raise safety standards for all workers. No one should die making a living," Snyder declared.
Workers' Memorial Day 2011 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 workers – most of them young immigrant women – were killed as a result of locked factory doors and unsafe working conditions. The terrible tragedy spurred major reforms in New York and led to improvements in other states.
April also marks the 40th birthday of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The legislation creating OSHA was signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970. At the time, 18 out of every 100,000 workers were killed on the job – a total of nearly 14,000 dead every year.
Workplace fatality, injury, and illness rates are down more than 65 percent since 1970, thanks in large part to OSHA and the efforts of thousands of workers as well as labor organizations to keep pushing for safer jobs. Still, every year more than 4,000 workers die on the job and more than 4 million suffer work-related injuries and illnesses.
OSHA must stay vigilant and keep up with ever-changing occupational hazards and working people and labor unions must also remain vigilant in making sure that work is done safely and that working conditions are safe.
SOURCE Pennsylvania AFL-CIO