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AFL-CIO chapter remembers fallen workers with ceremony

April 29, 2005|by DANIEL J. SERNOVITZ

daniels@herald-mail.com

Union workers from across the region pledged Thursday morning to step up efforts to bring about workplace safety during a national observance for fallen workers.

"I really think that, on this day, we need to honor our fallen," said Donna Edwards, secretary and treasurer of the Maryland and Washington, D.C., AFL-CIO. "The way we can honor them is to renew our commitment to the labor movement. We're living in a world right now that believes that workers are expendable. They believe that workers should work harder, longer, faster."

The Central Maryland AFL-CIO Council on East Franklin Street hosted the event as part of a national AFL-CIO Workers Memorial Day held every year on April 28 since 1989. The date marks the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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In prior years, death has directly touched the workers. Last year, union representatives used the event to remember GST AutoLeather worker Deanna L. Stottlemyer, 37, who died Jan. 21, 2004, when she was caught in a conveyor belt roller while working at a machine that dyes leather at GST.

Workers on Thursday appeared more optimistic about working conditions in Washington County and the state of Maryland, but stressed the importance of daily awareness of safety issues in the workplace.

"All in all, I think in the whole state of Maryland the strict safety measures we have pretty much puts us ahead of a lot of places," Central Maryland President Donald A. Forcino said prior to the event. "Most of the employers, by far, work very closely with us when we're having joint-safety committees. But, sometimes, when an accident happens, it's something that nobody realized."

Joining union representatives at the event were Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, Washington County Commissioner William Wivell and Hagerstown Mayor William Breichner.

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