Workers Memorial Service Held in Cedar Rapids

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By Jay Knoll

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - About 150 people die each day from work related causes throughout the nation, according to the AFL-CIO. People gathered Sunday in honor of Worker’s Memorial Day to commemorate those lost and to call for action in the form of more safe jobs and stricter laws and regulations.

Former Iowa Representative Pat Murphy spoke at the memorial service held in Cedar Rapids. He says a lot has been done to improve working conditions, but not enough. In 2011, 51 Iowans died from work related causes.

“It’s very important today to, one, mourn the dead, but then two educate people about the fact that people have been lost in the workplace and there’s strong reason to have laws and workplace safety,” said Murphy.

The absence of workplace safety hits close to home for Murphy. A crane ran over his son, breaking both his son’s legs and foot. He says he can’t imagine what it would be like, had the injuries been worse.

“He survived, and he’s had physical injuries that still bother him to this day, but for families that lose a loved one, and the changes that occur with a family because of that has got to be something that most of us have no ability to understand.”

That’s the reason Murphy, and other speakers stood up for workers who couldn’t Sunday. Despite nationwide improvements in workplace conditions, according to the AFL-CIO, many workers are still exposed to toxic chemicals like asbestos and safety hazards such as unguarded machinery. Speaking at the memorial event, Paul Iverson, of the University of Iowa Labor Center, said that some employers take shortcuts, endangering workers for increased productivity.

Other speakers at the event include Shelly Parbs, President of the Hawkeye Labor Council and Will McIntee, representing Bruce Braley.

More information about workplace safety and Worker’s Memorial Day can be found at www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Workers MemorialDay

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