Each year, the Teamsters Union, and trade unionists around the world, recognize April 28th as Workers’ Memorial Day (WMD) — an international day of remembrance and action for workers who have died, been injured, or made ill or disabled from their work.
Decades of effort by workers and their unions have made significant improvements on working conditions. But workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths continue to inflict enormous pain and suffering on millions of American workers and their families. Since March 2020, over 550,000 have died and close to 31 million have become ill from COVID-19 in the United States; many of these are frontline and essential workers, including Teamster members. Throughout the pandemic, the Teamsters Union has organized to demand and win job protections from this highly contagious virus. We have organized for safe jobs and the right to speak out against unsafe working conditions. We demanded access to personal protective equipment, respirators, changes in ventilation system operation, and other measures that protect workers from exposure to the virus while at work.
In addition to fighting for worker protections against COVID exposure, we must continue to fight for protections againstheat stress, workplace stress, and workplace violence, and the evolving unique hazards presented when humans and machines collide i.e automation/ robotics in the workplace. Continued action and constant pressure are required to ensure these concerns are addressed by employers and legislators alike.
This Workers’ Memorial Day is an opportunity to promote health and safety at each and every workplace by highlighting the toll of workplace injuries and illnesses, acknowledging their preventable nature, and demanding strong management commitment to developing and implementing effective safety and health programs WITH input from workers and their unions.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) whose mission is to “ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women…” which is honored in this year’s WMD theme “Renew the Promise of Safe Jobs for All of America’s Workers”. We must continue to fight and push forward to ensure safe jobs for all workers through strong unions and strong laws. One way you can join this fight is to partner with America’s labor movement and our allies in launching a full-scale national campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. The PRO Act would give the tens of millions of workers who want to form a union a fair path to do so.
We must continue to be cautious during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, it is prudent to host large-scale Worker’s Memorial Day events safely over digital media platforms or in smaller gatherings. Please consider guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and follow local and state rules before planning a large public event.
The IBT has developed a variety of resources to help you plan WMD activities at your local union and workplace. These include examples of activities and/or events to host, talking points that may be shared with the media as well as fact sheets on workplace hazards and workers’ rights. Available resources will be posted on this page in the coming days. On this April 28th, we urge you to commemorate and honor your fellow fallen workers by getting involved and organizing observances, remembrances, actions, activities, or digital campaigns in your workplaces and communities to Renew the Promise, Safe Jobs for All!
- Statement from James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President
- Letter from Lamont Byrd, Teamsters Safety and Health Director
- Division Statements
- Statement from the Public Service Division -Jason Rabinowitz
- Statement from the Airline Division – Capt. David Bourne
- Statement from the Passenger Transportation Division – Rick Middleton
- Statement from the Dairy and Food Processing Divisions – Rome Aloise
- Statement from Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen – Dennis R. Pierce
- Statement from Brewery and Soft Drink Conference – Greg Nowak
- Statement from Building Material and Construction Trade Division – Marion Davis
- More to Come
- WMD2021 Posters and Social Media Graphics
- Workplace Fatality Report
- General Media Talking Points
- Fact Sheet for Workers’ Memorial Day Activities
- Pre-event Media Advisory
- Sample Letter to the Editor
- Press Release After Event
- Tell Us About Your Event
- Teamster Safety and Health Webpage
- WMD 2021 International Statements
- OSHA Celebrates 50 years- National Workers Memorial Day Events
- National COSH
- National COSH WMD Resources
- NCOSH Report Deadly Risks, Costly Failures
- OSHA Adding Inequality to Injury- The Cost of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job
- Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect Report (Coming May 2021)
Highlighting Healthcare Workers: 3,600 Deaths among HCWs Within the 1st year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Healthcare workers who handled routine patient care, including nurses, support staff, and nursing home employees, were far more likely to die in the Pandemic than physicians were. Two-thirds of deceased health care workers, for whom the Guardian project has data, identified as people of color. See more info in the links below.
Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living!