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A Message from Dennis Martire: A Week of Remembering and Celebrating Working People

We begin the week with Workers’ Memorial Day, a time to commemorate workers who have been injured or lost their lives on the job. A few days later, we celebrate workers and labor achievements made worldwide on May Day, also known as International Labor Day. Workers’ Memorial Day precedes International Labor Day just as protections and benefits in place for workers today exist because of sacrifices and victories made more than 100 years ago.

While much progress has been made, workers’ rights remain under attack.

Today, fights between labor and management do not end in fatal violence like they too often did at the labor movement’s inception. Still, thousands of workers do not return home to their families after a day’s work because of avoidable jobsite accidents or debilitating opioid addiction from injuries developed at work. Furthermore, basic worker rights continue to be violated, including the very right to form a union. Until there are zero workplace fatalities and injuries and workers face zero injustices, our work is far from over.

Unions were key to winning jobsite safety regulations and protections, including the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations which also observes its anniversary on Workers’ Memorial Day. LIUNA continues to take an active role in safer jobsites with organizations such as LIUNA’s Training and Education Fund and LIUNA’s Health and Safety Fund.

Working families also currently face a dangerously high income inequality. The rich and Wall Street prosper as workers struggle to afford basic necessities with many workers forced to take two or more jobs to meet ends meet. It is a proven fact that strong unions raise the wages for working men and women, but unions cannot be in the fight alone. We need elected officials to act and more working people to join unions so that together we can restore a balance and keep this inequality from going any higher. 

This week, we must first express our gratitude both for what we have today and for those who fought for it, and then work towards saving and improving the lives of today and tomorrow’s construction workers. Let the historic accomplishments and historic sacrifices of these two days guide us, lead us, and remind us: it is the union that makes us strong.