This is a cross-post from the Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (SoCalCOSH).
Hello, my name is Chloe Osmer, I'm an OSH Activist and I work at the AFL-CIO. I'm also a SoCalCOSH board member.
Until just a few years ago, I never gave much thought to Workers Memorial Day. Sure, I understood that safety on the job was important, but that was something other people could worry about, it didn't have much to do with me. I was more interested in struggles to make sure people were paid fairly, so that they had enough money to put food on the table; that was the more important stuff.
When I started working on the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, that all began to change. I met a carwash worker who had his foot crushed by a car and could not walk normally for years afterward because he couldn't afford surgery. Another who was fired after he dared take part in a complaint to Cal-OSHA about hazards at his carwash. And another who went home every day with a rash from chemicals covering his whole torso and blurred vision from spraying the acid used to clean rims.
And once I got involved in fighting for safety on the job, I met other workers from all types of jobs who've suffered life changing accidents. Like Juan Carlos, a young father of two sons, who installs satellites for DIRECTV and fell more than eight feet off a ladder during an installation, wearing no harness or safety gear. He had to have surgery on his knee, still suffers from back pain and has not been able to go back to work nearly two years after the accident.
I've met a woman in a recycling plant who was pricked with a hypodermic needle, hotel workers crippled by repetitive stress and the list goes on. Once you know somebody who was hurt at work, in an accident that could've been prevented, you look at Workers Memorial Day differently. It's a time to express our anger at lives cut short or filled with suffering needlessly. It's a time to educate ourselves and others about our rights to safety and how to protect our health on the job. And most of all, it's a time to organize.
So come and join the movement for safe and healthy workplaces for ALL workers by participating at our Annual Workers Memorial Day Commemoration this Saturday, April 28.
Learn more at http://socalworkersmemorialday.org.
Find Workers Memorial Day events in your area here.