Picture courtesy of CSEA - 2012 CSEA
ALBANY - Nearly 1,000 CSEA safety and health activists will renew their commitment to on-the-job safety at the union's biennial Statewide Conference on Occupational Safety and Health in Lake Placid, April 27- 29.
"As union members are fighting to protect our jobs, benefits and pensions, it can be all too easy to put workplace safety and health on the back burner," said CSEA President Danny Donohue. "But safety on the job is one of CSEA's top priorities and something we have to fight for every day. That's especially true today, with misguided politicians trying to take away protections workers have fought long and hard to achieve."
The union members will join the other unions of the AFL-CIO and mark Workers Memorial Day on Saturday, April 28, with a ceremony remembering workers who have passed away while doing their jobs. Workers Memorial Day was established in 1989 as an international day of remembrance observed on the anniversary date of legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
CSEA members whose lives will be honored at this year's Workers Memorial Day event are:
- Nicole Gaulin, 35, a caseworker at the Orleans County Department of Social Services, who passed away April 21, 2010, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
- Stacie Williams, 45, a patient care assistant at Nassau University Medical Center, passed away June 16, 2010, due to workplace violence stemming from a domestic incident;
- Anthony Ruggiero Jr., 48, a Village of Tarrytown Department of Public Works employee, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while working in a village manhole;
- John P. Kelly, 51, a state Department of Transportation worker at the department's Region 8 Eastview Residency in Westchester County, passed away Sept. 6, 2010, while responding as a volunteer firefighter to the Tarrytown village manhole incident that also claimed Ruggiero;
- Sandra A. Marasco, 49, a program coordinator at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo and a member of CSEA's Health Research, Inc. Local, passed away Jan. 27, 2011, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident while on the job;
- Stephan Mueller, 47, a laborer at the City of Glen Cove in, passed away Sept. 17, 2011, from injuries sustained from being repeatedly stung by hornets;
- John Lattimore, 62, a state Department of Transportation worker in the Capital Region, passed away Oct. 20, 2011, from injuries sustained during a bridge inspection; and
- Robert DelVecchio Jr., 35, a highway worker at the Town of Mamaroneck, passed away Nov. 11, 2011, after being struck by a recycling truck at the town's sanitation and recycling center.
CSEA has long led the way nationally in seeking safer, healthier workplaces. The union was instrumental in the 1980 passage of the landmark Public Employees Safety and Health Act, extending OSHA protections to public employees. More than 24 states still do not have similar specific protections for public employees today. The union intensified its fight for safer work sites in 1992 after a disgruntled client murdered four CSEA members working at the Schuyler County Department of Social Services. CSEA's leadership and persistence, led to the historic Worksite Security Act, which brought about an enforceable Workplace Violence Prevention standard that has made many of New York's workplaces safer for workers and the public.
Despite the union's achievements, Donohue said there is still more work to do.
"Despite the strides we have made, going to work is still too dangerous for too many people," Donohue said. "We still wait for the year when we no longer have to "mourn for the dead" on Workers Memorial Day."