Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Workers' Memorial Day

Workers’ Mourning Day began in Canada in 1984 and has spread through the globe. It really is not well known here, although the Department of Labor has issued the above poster for this quoting Mother Jones, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."

This past Sunday, President Barack Obama went to Beckley, West Virginia, to mourn the 29 dead of the April 5th coal mine explosion. In an eulogy the President asked, "How can a nation that relies on its miners not do everything in its power to protect them? How can we let anyone in this country put their lives at risk by simply showing up to work, by simply pursuing the American dream?" Certainly, these were also political questions that would not have been asked by the previous occupant of the office, whom most assuredly would not have come to such an event, to remember dead workers killed working for an anti-worker, anti-union, anti-safety regulation, ownership.

Mother Jones, Mary Harris Jones knew those coal fields. She organised for the United Mine Workers, which fought for better pay and conditions, while many were arrested, beaten and sometimes shot dead in that pursuit. Since 1981 those efforts were steadily defeated. The Appalachian coal grounds are not the only dangerous work place, but they have always been an obvious front in labor and safety disasters and fights for the American dream against rapacious bosses and their system of brutal management.

April 28th was the day in 1914 when Workers' Compensation Act passed into Canadian law. Such government legislation has saved many an uncountable lives, for they prevented, at least some, deadly events to come into being. To-day is a day to especially note the deaths, injuries and illnesses caused in the workplace, a day to mourn the dead and to fight so more can live longer. Remember the dead miners whenever someone complains about government regulation.

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