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Workers’ Memorial Day 2020

By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 28 — Workers’ Memorial Day is a time for all workers to remember and honor those who have lost their lives in the workplace, and to stand up to protect those on the job today. April 28 was chosen for Workers Memorial Day, in part, because it is the anniversary of the founding of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and is the date of a similar remembrance established by the Canadian government. Trade unionists around the world now mark April 28 as an international day of mourning. And mourning is what we must do on this day, while never forgetting to fight for safer workplaces for all workers.

On the BLET website, you will find our Memorial Page (www.ble-t.org/memorial.asp). There we recognize our BLET Brothers and Sisters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Since last Workers’ Memorial Day, the BLET mourned the loss of Brother Bruce A. Dominique, Jr. of Division 219. On this somber day, I ask you to join me in taking a moment to remember Brother Dominique, as well as all railroaders and other workers who have been killed or injured on the job in the past year.

It is ironic that Workers’ Memorial Day comes during the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the nation. Our country’s essential workers have been on the front lines battling this virus and putting their lives at risk to keep our nation safe, often without the personal protective equipment necessary to insure their own safety. Our locomotive engineers and trainmen are among these essential workers, moving the freight and the passengers necessary to keep the lifeblood of America flowing. Our freight members move the products that stock our country’s grocery store shelves and the bulk commodities that keep the lights on. In many large cities, our passenger/commuter members operate the trains that are the only means of transportation for key medical personnel who are leading the charge against the coronavirus in our nation’s hospitals.

Our federal government, and particularly the Federal Railroad Administration, has been a huge disappointment when it comes to protecting the health and safety of railroaders who are so important to our nation’s economy. The FRA’s failure to mandate even the most basic sanitation methods to protect our members is nothing short of immoral. The FRA’s actions to waive key safety regulations as a way to help railroads boost profits is nothing short of illegitimate. Rail workers deserve a Federal Railroad Administration with the teeth to enforce existing regulations and the leadership to mandate additional worker protections during a time of national crisis. Rail workers deserve better than a rail industry lapdog.

I urge you to take a moment today to remember those who have been killed or injured on the job in the past year. I would also ask that you get involved with your union and become active and aware. Educate yourself about the issues in Washington D.C. that impact your job and your safety and join us in our fight to improve workplace safety for all American workers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

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