On Workers Memorial Day, we gather to remember and honor the working people whose lives have been taken on the job. This year, Governor Tom Wolf joined PA AFL-CIO President Rick Bloomingdale and Philadelphia CLC President Pat Eiding at the PhilaPOSH Workers Memorial Day Event. The Governor announced his support to safe workplaces for all workers in Pennsylvania by committing to signing the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety Bill when it comes to his desk. Governor Wolf also stated that the best way to ensure safe workplaces and conditions for all workers is to organize workers in a union!
In the more than 45 years of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s existence, over half a million lives have been saved by the safety and health protections OSHA has established. But there remains a lot of work to be done. The National AFL-CIO has released its annual report on the safety and health protections of American workers, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect”. The report gives a comprehensive breakdown of workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses, with data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
According to the report, 173 Pennsylvania workers lost their lives, out of 4,836 workers nationwide in 2015. Of these fatalities, 70 deaths were the result of transportation incidents, the largest group by far. Furthermore, 144,900 Pennsylvania workers reported suffering workplace-related injuries or illnesses in 2015. While these numbers are staggering to consider in the 21st century, they only account for private sector workers and exclude all Pennsylvania public sector workers.
The more than 587,000 public employees in Pennsylvania are not currently covered by the safety and health standards established by OSHA. This week, Representative Pat Harkins reintroduced House Bill 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker’s Safety Bill, in the General Assembly. This bill is titled after a public transit mechanic and ATU Local 538 brother who tragically lost his life in a workplace accident in 2014. Because of his public sector employer, Jake Schwab was denied the proper workplace safety regulations that protect his brothers and sisters in the private sector.
“Mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living”. On Workers Memorial Day, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO is proud to stand with working people across the Commonwealth as we honor workers. We hope that you will join us as we continue to fight for safer working conditions for all workers.