May 9, 2017
By WNYLaborToday.com Editor-Publisher Tom Campbell
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Niagara Falls, NY – After years of making somewhat the same speech at the Niagara-Orleans AFL-CIO Central Labor Council’s annual Workers’ Memorial that was held Saturday (May 6th) at Reservoir Park in Niagara Falls, Council President Jim Briggs delivered an emotional and angry challenge to Elected Officials and the media to “keep the focus on Worker deaths in the public’s eye in order to help eradicate the problem” in the years to come.
About 100 area Labor Leaders, Union Representatives, Elected Officials and families of those Workers who’ve lost their lives working on a variety of Niagara County projects over the years attended the remembrance event, where the names of the dead were read aloud and a procession of female Unionists and loved ones slowly made their way to the memorial where they placed flowers in their memory.
Briggs (Pictured Below/WNYLaborToday.com Photo), who also serves as Sub-District Director for United Steelworkers (USW) District 4, began his address with a personal story of finding a fellow Worker dead on the job, “his body at my feet” and then recounting how he watched “the body bag being put into an ambulance.”
Pointing to the 5,840 Workers who lost their lives on on-the-job deaths in 2015, Biggs told those in attendance “that those numbers ‘are not going down.’”
“It’s ‘worse today,’” he said, his voice growing angry and loud. “People are ‘getting killed every day (on the job) and it doesn’t make the papers,’ so ‘I challenge the media and our Elected Officials to tell these stories of Workers who didn’t come home at the end of their work day.’ It seems like ‘it’s not an issue’ to those in Albany and in Washington. We ‘need to shed a light on this.”
Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz (Pictured Below/WNYLaborToday.com Photo) also spoke, telling those huddled inside an enclosed tent on a blustery May morning that it is Organized Labor and Labor Unions who “lead” the fight to make sure Workers are protected on the job – something that has come under intense attack by the new Trump Administration.