Unions Gather to Pay Tribute to Workers Killed on the Job

Lee Clarke, chair of the NYCOSH executive board and special assistant to Eddie Rodriguez, president of Local 1549, described Trump as “hell bent” on unraveling worker protections and cutting back on the enforcement of workplace safety laws. Photo: Clarence Elie-Rivera

By GREGORY N. HEIRES

City unions and workplace safety advocates paid tribute to workers who died on the job during a ceremony outside DC 37 headquarters on April 28.

The Workers’ Memorial Day ceremony was dedicated to Emergency Medical Technician Yadira Arroyo, a Local 2507 member who was killed in the line of duty on March 16, when a man ran her over her as he tried to hijack her ambulance.

“Today and every day, let us recommit to doing all we can to honor those we have lost at work and to advocate for policies designed to protect the health and well-being of all workers,” said Vincent Alvarez, president of the New York City Central Labor Council, a sponsor of the event.

“Every person who is killed on the job or dies due to workplace illness leaves family and an entire community in mourning,” said Charlene Obernauer, executive director of New York City Occupational Safety and Health Administration also a sponsor of the event. “Our work to prevent these tragedies and pain has never been more urgent.”

“As we stand here today to honor public employees, first responders and all the men and women who make this city work on Workers’ Memorial Day, we must understand not just the services they provide but also the sacrifices which they make,” said Israel Miranda, president of Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Inspectors Local 2507. “Some make the ultimate sacrifice; others have less than full careers due to illness of injury.”

“The world of work is still a dangerous place,” DC 37 Associate Director Oliver Gray said.

About 5,000 workplace fatalities occur every year. That is significantly below the number who were killed every year before the establishment of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1971. An agency in the U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA is responsible for setting and enforcing safe and healthful working conditions.

The Labor Dept. faces a 21 percent cut under President Donald J. Trump’s proposed federal budget. The reduction includes an $11 million cut to eliminate “unproven” OSHA training grants.

“We have to push back,” Clarke said.

The ceremony concluded as several people spoke the name of a worker who perished at work and placed a rose nearly the union’s plaque recognizing the four DC 37 members who died while working on 9/11. In 2005, 74 workers in the city were killed on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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