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Workers Memorial Day: Remembering those we lost and fighting for a safer future

Washington, DC—Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), issues this statement commemorating the 50th observance of Workers Memorial Day:

“On Workers Memorial Day, as we pause to remember and honor those injured and killed at work, we are reminded in the starkest ways that safety in the workplace doesn’t simply happen. It is created through bold, collective action, including strong union contracts, thoughtful policy solutions, and federal leaders who are willing to meet the needs of working people.

“Today, more than 70 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. States and local governments are beginning to lift social distancing restrictions that have shuttered staples of American culture, like movie theaters, concert venues, and restaurants. Offices are opening, students and teachers are returning to classrooms, and, for the first time in more than a year, Americans have hope that the darkest days of the pandemic are behind us.

“We would not have made it to this pivotal moment without the sacrifices of millions of frontline workers who, against all odds, continue to see this country and her people through the greatest public health crisis in a century. Without backing and support from the federal government, even as the coronavirus was raging, working people – including those on the frontlines of our transportation system — reported for duty, risking their own health and safety in the process.

“Transportation workers shuttled healthcare workers to their jobs on the frontlines of the pandemic. They ensured hospitals had supplies and grocery store shelves stayed stocked. They transported PPE around the globe, and delivered the COVID-19 vaccine to every corner of this country.

“Many are still reeling from the consequences. Hundreds of workers — beloved union sisters and brothers across every mode of transportation — lost their lives. Millions more fell ill from the virus, were hospitalized, or lost their jobs as a result of the economic calamity that befell this country.

“Despite these overwhelming challenges, transportation labor and the broader labor movement rallied: we pushed for PPE for our members and their passengers, called for modal-specific cleaning procedures and other safety measures including mask mandates, and secured emergency funding so workers could stay in their jobs or on payroll, and the systems they maintain and operate could stay open and functioning.

“As we begin to recover from this public health and economic crisis, our work is far from over. Ensuring the safety of our frontline transportation workforce – and all working people – will be instrumental as we reopen our economy and rebuild our country. That is why today, and every day, TTD and our 33 unions renew our collective commitment to secure strong safety and health protections for our members, and ensure our transportation system is safe, secure, and capable of meeting this country’s economic needs.”