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Hagerstown workers memorial day

April 29, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Local elected and union officials commemorated Workers Memorial Day on Friday with a ceremony outside the union office building on East Franklin Street in Hagerstown.

"It's to honor the dead and forgotten union members killed on the job," said Woody McNemar, president of the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council.

The AFL-CIO has observed Workers Memorial Day on April 28 since 1989 to honor and remember those who have died, been injured or become sick from exposure to toxins while working. Friday marked the first time the day was commemorated with a ceremony in Hagerstown, McNemar said.

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"We thought it was time to make a tradition of honoring our people," he said.

Labor Council Education Director Bobby Fouche said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, prompted the ceremony.

"We lost a lot of union (members) that day," Fouche said.

Hagerstown Police Officer Wayne Hose, president of the city police officers' union, said, "We are here to pay tribute to the victims of 9-11."

The attacks were a reminder of the dangers faced by police, fire and emergency rescue workers, Hose said.

Terry Bowman, president of the Western Maryland Building and Construction Trades Council, said that 14 people are killed and 10,400 are injured daily in workplace accidents.

Each year, another 60,000 people die from illnesses contracted from toxins at work, he said.

The torment of families is unacceptable, Bowman said.

McNemar said there were 15 job-related deaths in Washington and Frederick counties in 2001. He said most of the deaths were caused by illnesses contracted from toxins while working.

During the Friday ceremony, state Dels. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, and Sue Hecht, D-Frederick/Washington, presented McNemar with a House of Delegates Resolution.

McNemar also received resolutions from Washington County Commissioner Paul L. Swartz, Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner and the City of Frederick.

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