WASHINGTON – American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley issued the following statement for Workers’ Memorial Day:
"Today is Workers’ Memorial Day – a day we set aside to honor the memory of workers who have lost their lives due to workplace injury and illness. Fifty years ago, when Workers’ Memorial Day was first observed, we had hope that recognition of the threats to human life that so many workers face on the job would lead to safer workplaces and fewer worker deaths. But thousands of American workers continue to lose their lives on the job each year.
“This Workers’ Memorial Day comes in the midst of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over a half a million Americans, including hundreds of government employees and AFGE members.
“The pandemic has shown America the true value of “essential workers” and how essential workers are, even though employers often treat them as expendable when it comes to pay and measures to protect their health and safety.
“Although the federal government failed working people throughout 2020, the new Congress and new administration have an opportunity to correct those wrongs and protect workers by passing the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and issuing an emergency temporary OSHA standard focused on protecting workers from COVID-19. Both of these measures – protecting the right of workers to organize into unions so that they can negotiate for safer conditions at work—and issuance of an emergency anti-COVID-19 OSHA standard – will save lives and must be a top priority."