Fifty years ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and more than 40 years ago, Congress passed the Mine 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 and saved lives. But our work is not done. Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more suffer injury or illness because of their jobs.
Corporate interests have taken over safety agencies under the Trump administration. Not only has progress stalled, but the administration has weakened or repealed key protections that keep us safe at work and slashed safety agency budgets and staff. Now, there has been no action to protect workers from infectious diseases like COVID-19, heat illness, silica in mining and exposure to toxic chemicals. The number of workplace safety inspectors has never been lower.
The labor movement and allies have fought back to block some of these attacks. We won permanent compensation for those made ill by the 9/11 attacks, and we are fighting for laws that would protect workers from preventable workplace violence, heat illness, asbestos exposures and the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping through our workplaces.
On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO will observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job, and to renew the fight for safe jobs. This year we will come together to call for action on hazards that cause unnecessary injury, illness and death. We will stand united against the ongoing attacks on workers’ rights and protections, and demand that elected officials put working people’s well-being above corporate interests. We will fight for the right of every worker to a safe job until that promise is fulfilled.