Workers’ Memorial Day is an annual international event that was established to provide recognition to workers that have suffered or died following exposure to hazards in the workplace. It also aims to increase safety regulations among workplaces. This year it falls on Thursday, April 28.
The first Workers’ Memorial Day was celebrated in the year 1989 by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). AFL-CIO serves as the largest workers’ unions organization and was developed in 1955. Workers’ Memorial Day is also known as the Day of Mourning or the International Commemoration Day for the Dead and Injured. April 28 also happens to be the anniversary of legislation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act that occurred in 1970.
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions began celebrating Workers’ Memorial Day every year starting in 1996. The ICFTU sets a particular theme every year. In the year 2001, the International Labor Organization (ILO), which is part of the United Nations, officially recognized Workers’ Memorial Day and also declared April 28 as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
“In 2018, work-related injuries claimed the lives of 5,250 U.S. workers, a 2% increase from 2017. This number represents a rate of 3.5 fatal injuries per 100 full time equivalent workers. Although deaths resulting from work-related injuries are captured by surveillance systems, most deaths resulting from work-related illness are not. In 2007, an estimated 53,445 persons died from work-related illness. In 2018, employers reported approximately 2.8 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses to private industry workers via the annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. An estimate of the annual burden of chronic occupational illness in the US is between 460,534 and 709,792 additional cases per year,” as stated by CDC.gov and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
One can observe Workers’ Memorial Day by appreciating workers, spreading awareness and reading about workers’ history. Many workers provide all of us with the comforts of daily life. The ability to purchase produce at the market or having food delivered are because of the workers who work tirelessly to ensure these modern conveniences. It is important to recognize their efforts and to always be kind.
In order to increase awareness, more voices are needed. Simply tell your friends and family of Workers’ Memorial Day. Also donate to the cause if you can.
Education can also be beneficial. Research the problems within workplaces. This will allow you to better present the information when spreading awareness and getting others involved in the fight for workplace safety.
Nationaltoday.com provided five facts about labor unions. They are listed below.
1. Better pay and benefits for members- Union members tend to get better pay and benefits from their employers as opposed to non-union members.
2. More productive- Union members tend to be more productive and better at their jobs because they will most likely have discussed job improvisations with their employer.
3. Millennial numbers the highest- Amongst other generations like the Boomers and Gen X, Millennials form the highest number of union members, as of 2017.
4. Americans support unions- In general, many Americans support labor unions and their ability to unionize workers.
5. Retirement plans- Union members tend to have better pension plans from their employers.
Nationaltoday.com also summarized that Workers’ Memorial Day is a reminder of unity, a reminder of the lost and a reminder to show humanity. “This day reminds us that together we can achieve new heights. If we do not take care of each other, we are doomed to fail as a species. At the end of the day, no scientific leaps and advancements would matter if we fail to come together to help each other. Those who have passed away have left us with their legacies. It’s important to remember them and the reason we lost them because only through such reminders will we be able to work for a better tomorrow. One thing that differentiates us from other species on earth is our ability to not only show empathy but to put it into action. Workers make our lives better, so it is high time we strive to make their lives better too.