Apr 27, 2018 | Press Release


Groups Announce New Partnership between NYC Central Labor Council, New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health, and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson

New York, NY – On Friday, April 27th, local workers, labor leaders, elected officials, clergy, and community members gathered on the steps of City Hall to honor dozens of workers who have died on the job over the past year, as part of Workers Memorial Day observations across the nation.

During the program, the groups announced a new joint effort by New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO (NYC CLC) and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) to draw attention to the continuing need for increased safety protections and workplace rights, as well as the importance of proper training standards, by reading the names of workers killed on the job at the start of City Council Stated meetings. The Speaker also issued a proclamation reaffirming the City Council’s commitment to defending and protecting the protections that make jobs safer and save lives, and declaring April 28, 2018 to be Workers Memorial Day in New York City.

“In the last 12 months, at least 40 workers died on the job in our city,” said Speaker Johnson. “Hearing their names serves as a somber reminder of how fleeting life can be, how we should cherish those we love and how we must always strive to better protect our workers. It’s painful, but we need to remember those who have fallen and their sacrifice, and to honor their families and loved ones. We are eternally grateful.”

“We are gathered today in communities across the country to remember and honor hardworking men and women who were hurt or killed on the job,” said NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez. "Even one death on the job is one death too many. This is why it is so crucial that working people have a voice in the workplace, and that they organize, fight and demand action from employers and their government. We’re proud to partner with NYCOSH and with Speaker Johnson to formally recognize and honor those who have been lost, and to renew our struggle for safer workplaces.”

"Workers who are killed on the job or who die due to workplace illness leave their families and an entire community in mourning," said Charlene Obernauer, NYCOSH's Executive Director. "Our partnership with Speaker Johnson to count workplace fatalities and ensure that the names of workers who die on the job are acknowledged and remembered is essential to recognizing trends among industries and ways in which smart policies can save workers lives.”

During the program, workers discussed their fights for increased safety protections and workplace rights, including protections against sexual harassment and violence, as well as the importance of proper training standards. At least 40 workers have died on the job since last year’s Worker’s Memorial Day commemoration, according to the New York City Department of Health. Construction was the most dangerous industry, with 17 fatalities.

“We gather today to commemorate union and nonunion workers alike who have lost their lives on the job,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the 100,000 member Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “Our sorrow is a stark reminder of how important our fight for safer construction sites across New York City is.”  

“Workers Memorial Day is a sad but needed day to remind us all that we must continue our commitment to fighting for safer working conditions,” said Gerard Fitzgerald, President of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “Our role, as unions, is to protect our members and we take great pride in the trainings we provide workers along with the proactive lobbying we push for stronger safety standards.”

"Far too many men and women are getting killed on the job or dying of work-related illnesses, said Tony Utano, President of Transport Workers Union Local 100. “Far too many of our brothers and sisters are suffering serious and debilitating injuries inflicted during their shifts. The numbers are stark. They are scary. They are sobering. Let’s honor or fallen brothers and sisters today - but also redouble our efforts to increase safety and ensure everyone goes home to their families in one piece."

“We are pleased to be part of today’s Workers Memorial Day observance,  and we thank the Speaker for his proactive approach on important workplace safety measures, particularly his commitment to addressing sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Beverley Brakeman, Assistant Director of UAW Region 9A. “UAW academic unions have taken on sexual harassment with increasing success in recent years using collective  bargaining to negotiate avenues of recourse that do not currently exist.  Given the widespread failure of the existing university systems of recourse, addressing sexual harassment has become one of the central reasons thousands of academic workers are choosing to unionize. Unfortunately, universities like Columbia, where graduate workers are currently on strike, have fought the right of these workers to unionize, blocking their ability to negotiate stronger protections and gain a clear path to gender equity.”

Workers Memorial Day is commemorated in cities nationwide to remember the lives of workers who were hurt or killed on the job, and to recommit to fighting for the rights of all working people.