The IAFF is encouraging affiliates to observe Workers Memorial Day and National Day of Mourning on April 28 to commemorate workers who have been injured, killed or suffer illness as a result of occupational accidents and hazards.
In the last year, American and Canadian labor have pushed to establish workplace protocols to keep workers safe on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, 556,000 in the U.S. (including 38 IAFF members) and nearly 23,000 in Canada have lost their lives to coronavirus, underlining the need to do more and better.
In the U.S., April 28 marks the anniversary of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which promises every worker the right to a safe job. Since then, unions have continued to fight to add more laws protecting workers. This year, American labor movement supporters are launching a national campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would give the tens of millions of workers who want to form a union a fair path to do so.
April 28 is also the Canadian Day of Mourning. In 1984, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) set aside this day to recognize the ongoing need to take a proactive approach in preventing workplace deaths, illnesses and injuries.
The AFL-CIO and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) typically encouraged union members to organize events emphasizing the enforcement and creation of safe workplace polices, but due to COVID-19, public events are not possible. Both organizations are instead recommending non-traditional events using virtual technology and other no-contact activities.