Fifty years ago on April 28, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect after the tireless efforts of the labor movement, who drew major attention to work-related deaths and injuries, organized for safer working conditions and demanded action from their government. The OSH Act and Mine Safety and Health Act promised workers 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 and saved lives. But there is much to be done before the promise to keep all workers safe on the job can be fulfilled.
Worker safety and worker voice go hand in hand. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, workers have come together and used our collective voice to demand and win job safety protections from this highly contagious virus. This year, America’s labor movement and our allies are launching a full-scale national campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would give the tens of millions of workers who want to form a union a fair path to do so.
In the 50th year of OSHA this April 28, we focus on the need to renew the promise of safe jobs for all of America’s workers. We must continue to fight and push forward to ensure safe jobs for all workers through strong unions and strong laws. Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more suffer injury or illness because of our jobs. Far too many workers die from preventable hazards and many more workers get sick from exposure to toxic chemicals. Many employers and workers never see OSHA in their workplace. Penalties are still too low to be a deterrent. Workplace safety agencies have been decimated by a reduction in staff and a stagnant budget. Workers are not adequately protected without retaliation to speak out against unsafe working conditions and to freely join a union.
Please join us this Workers Memorial Day, April 28, to honor the victims of workplace injury and illness and to keep fighting for the promise of safe jobs for all workers.