April 28 is Workers Memorial Day, when we remember workers killed or injured on the job and renew our commitment to fight for strong safety and health protections. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the day that the Occupational Health and Safety Act went into effect, promising every worker the right to a safe job.
Our observance comes as working people are still dying each day as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while many are still dealing with the traumatic physical, emotional, and financial effects of the crisis.
While the Biden administration has worked to put in place responsible, qualified officials who are working hard to repair the damage that the previous administration did to OSHA, union representation is still working people's best way to protect themselves on the job.
As we grieve those we have lost from COVID-19 and other workplace hazards, we must do everything we can to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to ensure workers have safe jobs and the right to freely form a union without employer interference or intimidation.
The theme of this year's Workers Memorial Day is "Safe Jobs for All." The AFL-CIO has posted resources, including flyers and artwork that you can use as you commemorate the day, at https://aflcio.org/about-us/conferences-and-events/workers-memorial-day.
This Workers Memorial Day, CWA especially remembers these members and others who were killed on the job over the past year:
On September 18, 2020, Martin DeMaris, 62, a member of CWA Local 1085 in Sewell, N.J., who performed correctional facility maintenance for the Salem County Sheriff's Department, died after his tractor rolled over while he was cutting grass on a pond embankment.
On October 13, 2020, Alec Williamson, 38, a member of CWA Local 1124 in Watertown, N.Y., a Verizon Field Technician, was flagging one end of a work zone for a crew running fiber cable, and was struck and run over by a vehicle that failed to stop.
On April 18, 2021, Dan Semich, 48, a member of CWA Local 3808 in Nashville, Tenn., an AT&T Wire Technician, died as the result of a fall from a midspan ladder during an installation.
Fatalities as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic continue. While it is difficult to know how someone may have been exposed to the virus, we do know that many people have been exposed while at work.
We have established a memorial page for members who have lost their lives to COVID-19, which we will continue to update.