Change To Win Renews Commitment To Keep Workers Safe

WASHINGTON, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement from Change to Win Executive Director Chris Chafe on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, 2009.

"Each year, thousands of workers are killed on the job and millions more sustain workplace injuries. According to the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than four million workers were injured on the job and nearly 6,000 were killed by injuries due to job-site hazards in 2007 alone. Thousands more died of job-related diseases.

"Today, on Workers Memorial Day, Change to Win remembers and honors all those workers who lost their lives or were injured or sickened on the job. Workers like Mr. Eleazar Torres-Gomez, a 46-year old industrial laundry employee from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who died tragically in 2007 when he got caught inside a dryer at Cintas Corporation - the nation's largest industrial laundry and uniform maker. Prior to this incident, Cintas had been cited several times by OSHA for the same workplace hazard and employee training violations that led to Mr. Torres-Gomez's death. Unfortunately, this is only one story of millions, which is why we must renew our commitment to fighting for workplace safety.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed in 1971 to help assure that all Americans could work in safe and healthy workplaces. And after eight long years of the Bush Administration failing to enforce laws related to workers' rights and protections, we are excited to welcome a new Administration and Congress dedicated to protecting America's workers. From Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, to President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress, it is clear that we have entered a new era of government for America's workers - one that is strongly committed to protecting the interests, health and safety of all working families.

"Yet in order to keep workers safe, we must continue to strengthen our laws to protect more workers by ending government indifference and corporate misbehavior. We must improve safety and health standards, close the loopholes in OSHA's inspection programs and mandate strict follow-up enforcement actions against employers where workers were killed or injured. Congress also must pass the Protecting America's Workers Act to give OSHA the authority necessary to make sure that employers who flagrantly violate the law not only comply with safety and health standards - but also finally face the consequences of their lawlessness. And Congress must assure that OSHA has the resources to do inspections before more workers die from employer negligence - because one worker death on the job is one death too many."

About Change to Win

Change to Win is a partnership of unions representing six million members that was founded in 2005 to organize workers of the new American economy. Change to Win committed to restoring the American Dream so that all workers have a paycheck that can support a family, affordable health care, a secure and dignified retirement, and the opportunity for the next generation to be better off. The seven affiliated unions are: Service Employees International Union, UNITE HERE, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers' International Union of North America, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and United Farm Workers of America.

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