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Workers' Memorial Day 2016

Posted on Apr 19, 2016
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Reclaim Labor! Reclaim Lives!
Oakland-based Collaborative, Worksafe, Street Level, and Centro Legal de la Raza to Host Workers Memorial Day Event, April 28th, 2016

Oakland, CA – An Oakland collaborative of community and advocacy organizations, Worksafe, Street Level Health Project, and Centro Legal de la Raza will host a Workers Memorial Day event on April 28th, 2016 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Oakland. Workers, advocates, and allies will meet at the Lake Merritt Amphitheatre located between 12th Street and 1st Ave. on Lake Merritt Blvd. in Downtown Oakland. Participants will then march in solidarity to City Hall located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. At 5:30 p.m. at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, there will be a short memorial program featuring workers, labor, government agencies, and advocates. A moment of silence will be observed to mourn workers who passed in the workplace in the prior year.

This event, titled, “Reclaim Labor! Reclaim Lives!” is dedicated to honoring all the day laborers, immigrants, and low wage workers’ lives that have been lost due to unsafe working conditions. Workers, advocates, allies, and government agencies will come together to highlight the importance of continuing the fight for workers’ rights.

Workers’ Memorial Day, observed on April 28th each year, is an international day of remembrance of people who suffered work-related illnesses or injuries or were killed on the job. Every day, 12 workers die needlessly at work and tens of thousands more suffer from workplace injuries. Preliminary data show that 207 Californians were killed on the job in 2015.  In 2014, the most recent year for which Bureau of Labor Statistics data are available, 334 California workers were killed at work. Furthermore, Worksafe’s analysis of 2015 Federal OSHA data show an estimated rate of one worker death on the job per week in Northern California alone. In California as a whole, close to four are killed each week.

These estimates must be viewed in light of the fact that it is extremely challenging, if not impossible, to get an authoritative count of workers killed on the job. Some incidents are never reported or investigated. Others are ruled to be the result of a pre-existing medical condition.  When workers die from the cumulative effects of workplace illness and injury, the death might not be considered an occupational fatality. In addition, some are outside the jurisdiction of the agencies that do the counting.

“Reclaim Labor! Reclaim Lives!” will focus on fatalities of low wage workers, immigrant workers, and day laborers.

Jora Trang, the Managing Attorney at Worksafe states, “We have known for many years now that, despite the reported declining rate of fatalities for workers, Latino deaths continue to rise. Worksafe has pointed out year after year in our Dying at Work reports that low-wage Latinos face a far greater risk of injury, illness and fatality in the workplace not only in California but nation-wide.”

Analyzing the latest data, we have found that in 2014, while fewer than 2 in 10 Californians were Latino (17.4%), almost 4 in 10 workers killed on the job were Latino (38%).  In fact, the AFL-CIO’s 2015 report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” noted that California was responsible in 2013 for the largest number of Latino worker deaths. In California 43% of workers who fell to their deaths from roofs and cranes and trees were Latino. 48% of all workers crushed to death in machines, smothered in caved-in trenches, or squashed by falling objects like tree limbs were Latino. These statistics are staggering and outrageous.

Sadly, many of these workers die with very little acknowledgement from the media. Worksafe’s research of worker fatalities every year always proves challenging since there is a dearth of information and news coverage about Latino deaths. “It is important to acknowledge the lives and contribution of everyone that makes up our national economy,” notes Jae Maldonado, the Executive Director of the Street Level Health Project.      

For these reasons, Centro Legal de la Raza, Street Level Health Project, and Worksafe joined forces to create the “Safe, Secure, and Sustainable Jobs for Day Laborers” project. This project uniquely combines policy advocacy, legal advocacy, and grassroots community empowerment to support and promote the economic development and stabilization of the day labor community and their families in California. The project has been funded generously through a Community Stabilization and Reinvesment Grant administered by the Legal Services Trust Fund Program.  

On April 28th, 2016 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Oakland, this collaborative will call upon workers, unions, advocates, allies, and government agencies to join them in honoring those who have lost their lives at work. We will acknowledge and bear witness to the dead, and to those who are injured or ailing because of the work they do. We will work to make the statistics speak, giving names and stories to numbers.  We will show our solidarity with workers, and our commitment to the safety of all workers. Please join us.



Jora Trang, Worksafe, Managing Attorney
Tel. (510) 922-8719
Email: jtrang at worksafe dot org

Jae Maldonado, Street Level Health Project, Executive Director
Tel. (510) 533-9906
Email: jae at streetlevelhealth dot org

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Worksafe is a California-based nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting people from job-related hazards and empowering them to advocate for the right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit worksafe.org.

Street Level Health Project is an Oakland-based grassroots organization dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of underserved urban immigrant communities in the Bay Area. For more information, visit streetlevelhealth.org.

Centro Legal de la Raza is a comprehensive legal services agency protecting and advancing the rights of immigrant, low-income and Latino communities through bilingual legal representation, education, and advocacy. For more information, visit centrolegal.org.


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