Commemorating Workers’ Memorial Day 2017 and Planning for the Fight Ahead

In Honor of Workers’ Memorial Week, each day this week Citizen Vox discussed the need for safe jobs and called attention to the ways the Trump administration is dismantling key worker health and safety protections.

Significant challenges are ahead in the fight for safer workplaces.

Today is the first Workers’ Memorial Day under the Trump administration. And, now, more than ever, our communities should come together to demand strong protections in the workplace. Not one more worker should have to die from a preventable incident at work.

This week, our blog series recapped the ways in which the Trump administration and the Republican Congress are rewarding corporations at the expense of the health and safety of working families. In the first 100 days of this administration, workers suffered devastating rollbacks of workplace safety regulations and were left to wonder whether their political leaders would defund the agencies keeping them safe on the job.

However, working people have the tools to fight back. All over the country today on Workers’ Memorial Day, workers and safety advocates are holding events to mourn, collaborate, and organize the next steps of the worker safety movement. If you can, please join in these celebrations of the contributions of workers that are taking place across the nation. You can also help spread the word on social media with the hash tag #IWMD17 or write a letter-to-the-editor to your local paper about the importance of safe workplaces. After Workers’ Memorial Day, continue to stay informed about the latest developments in workplace safety.

As we do our on-the-ground work to raise the public’s attention to issues affecting workers, our allies in Congress also continue to stand with us to demand safer workplaces. Earlier this year, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) introduced the Protecting America’s Workers Act to modernize the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This legislation is a step in the right direction. Among other reforms, the bill would expand occupational safety protection to millions of workers not yet under OSHA’s jurisdiction, enhance the rights of whistleblowers, and increase penalties for employers who willfully endanger workers by cutting corners on workplace safety. While this bill is unlikely to pass in the current anti-worker Congress, it serves as a rallying cry for worker safety advocates and the public alike.

The battle for safe jobs is far from over. Now is the time to raise our voices and demand that corporations and lawmakers put people before profits. This April 28, advocates should take to heart the words of Mother Jones: “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.”

Emily Gardner is the worker health and safety advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. 

Keep up with Public Citizen’s work on these issues by following @SafeWorkers on Twitter.