Every year on April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces. This year we the struggle continues to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy and to ensure the freedom of workers to form unions and, through their unions, to speak out and bargain for respect and a better future. It's time for our country to fulfill the promise of safe jobs for all.
Four decades ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections that have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousand of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses.
But our work is not done. Many job hazards are unregulated and uncontrolled. Some employers, like Massey Energy and BP, cut corners and violate the law, putting workers in serious danger and costing lives. Each year thousands of workers are killed and millions more injured or diseased because of their jobs.
The Obama administration has moved forward to strengthen protections with tougher enforcement on serious violators and proposed new safeguards for workplace hazards. But business groups and the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives are attacking these stronger measures, falsely claiming they kill jobs. They are pushing legislation to make it difficult, if not impossible, to issue needed safeguards to protect workers and the public.
We cannot and will not let them turn back the clock and destroy the progress we have made to make jobs safer and save lives. Safety laws and regulations don't kill jobs—but unsafe jobs do kill workers.