By James P. Hoffa, General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
In the United States, Canada, and many other countries, Workers’ Memorial Day is when we remember and honor our fallen brothers and sisters in the labor movement. It is a time to look back and mourn for workers killed and injured on the job, as well as a time to look ahead and engage in fighting for safe workplaces for all.
Each year, the Teamsters Union and trade unionists worldwide 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. Millions of workers in the private and public sectors, including Teamster members, suffer injuries and illnesses and thousands lose their lives to preventable workplace injuries and illnesses.
Fifty years ago, on April 28th, thanks to the labor movement’s efforts, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect with the promise of protecting the safety and health of workers. Public employees in many States are still not covered by those protections, and much work remains to be done today and every day.
This year’s observance will be especially difficult. The unprecedented physical, economic and mental toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on millions of workers, families, and communities cannot be overstated. As essential workers, most Teamster members have been at the forefront of keeping the economy running while battling the risk of exposure to the highly transmissible virus in the absence of adequate protective measures.
The pandemic has also highlighted long-standing inequity and discrimination where communities of color, low-income families, and essential workers have suffered a disproportionate share of illness and death. The IBT pledges to do everything within its power to strengthen workers’ rights and protections and the freedom to organize for better and safer workplaces. We hope you will join us on this historic day to honor fellow brother and sister workers everywhere and to Renew the Promise for Safe Jobs for All by demanding employers and lawmakers to create good jobs that ensure the dignity and safety every worker deserves.