Safe Jobs is Every Worker's Right
More than 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 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. Workplace fatalities are on the rise again.
After years of struggle, we won new rules to protect workers from deadly silica dust and beryllium, a stronger coal dust standard for miners and stronger anti-retaliation protections for workers who report job injuries.
All of these hard-won gains are now threatened. The Trump administration has launched an all-out assault on regulations. The president has ordered that for every new protection, two existing safeguards must be removed. President Trump and Republicans in Congress have overturned worker safety rules issued by the Obama administration. Protections against beryllium and coal dust have been targeted for weakening. Agency budgets and enforcement programs are on the chopping block. The safety and health of workers and the public are in danger.
We must fight back. 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.
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 the fight for safe jobs.
This year we will come together to stand united against the attacks on workers’ rights and protections. We will demand that elected officials put workers’ well-being above corporate interests and demand good jobs that are safe and healthy, and pay fair wages. We will defend the right of every worker to a safe job and fight until that promise is fulfilled.
DECADES OF STRUGGLE by working people and their unions have improved working conditions and made jobs safer. But the Trump administration, the Republican majority in Congress and business groups has launched an all-out assault on workers’ rights and protections. We must fight back and continue to push forward.
• defend the OSHA and MSHA laws, safety and health protections, and workers’ rights from right-wing and business attacks;
• defend the new OSHA rules on silica, beryllium, injury reporting and antiretaliation,
and the MSHA coal dust rule, and push for full compliance with these safeguards;
• fight any attempts to cut job safety budgets or weaken enforcement;
• increase efforts to protect the safety and health of Latino and immigrant workers, who are at much greater risk of death and injury;
• seek new protections on workplace violence, infectious diseases and combustible dust;
• pass the Protecting America’s Workers Act to provide OSHA protection for the millions of workers without it, stronger criminal and civil penalties for companies that seriously violate job safety laws, and improved antiretaliation protections; and
• ensure workers’ right to have a voice on the job, and to freely choose to form a union without employer interference or intimidation.
What you can do on Worker's Memorial Day
• Organize a rally to call for stronger safety and health protections. Demand that elected officials put workers’ well-being over corporate interests.
• Hold a candlelight vigil, memorial service or moment of silence to remember those who have died on the job and highlight job safety problems at workplaces in your community.
• Hold a public meeting with members of Congress in their districts. Bring injured workers and family members who can talk firsthand about the need for strong safety and health protections, and the freedom to join a union. Invite local religious leaders and other allies to participate in the meeting.
• Conduct workshops to empower workers to report job safety hazards and exercise workplace rights. Invite union members, nonunion workers and community allies to participate.
• Create a memorial at a workplace or in a community where workers have been killed on the job.
• Invite the press to your Workers Memorial Day events to increase public awareness of the dangers workers face on the job.
For additional information or to order materials, contact:
AFL-CIO Safety and Health
815 16th St., NW
Washington, DC 20006
Get the PDF handouts here: