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Workers killed, injured on the job remembered at ceremony

April 29, 2013|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Larry Barron, left, and Dave Dopp take part in a prayer during a Workers Memorial Day ceremony held at the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Labor office on Monday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Labor leaders from across the state gathered in Hagerstown on Monday to remember workers who have been killed or injured on the job.

The annual event, known as Workers Memorial Day, was attended by about 40 people at the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Labor Council building at 511 E. Franklin St.

Chip Cook, president of the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Labor Council, said the gathering in Hagerstown was one of many remembrance ceremonies that were held across the country.

“It’s to remember workers who have been injured or killed on the job, (but) it’s not only to remember them,” Cook said. “We need to renew our vigor in fighting for all the remaining men and women ... That we provide safe work places so that all these working men and women can go home to their families in the same condition that they showed up for to work.”

An average of 13 workers die each day as a result of workplace injuries, according to an AFL-CIO news release. Statistics show 71 workers were killed in the State of Maryland in 2011.

Cook said the most recent workplace fatality in Washington County occurred in April 2012, when a man fell off a moving vehicle in the parking lot at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown.

Several of the speakers who attended the event mentioned the April 17 explosion at a West Texas fertilizer plant that killed 14 people, injured nearly 150 others and leveled a number of buildings.

In addition to labor officials, Monday’s event was attended by Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, Hagerstown Police Lt. Paul Kifer and several members of the Hagerstown City Council and Washington County Board of Commissioners.

While presenting a proclamation on behalf of the city, Councilman Martin Brubaker recalled working in a Pennsylvania steel mill when he was a young man.

He said the owners of the mill showed little regard for the safety of the workers.

“They just simply were walking away from it,” Brubaker said. “Safety was not a consideration.”

He praised unions for helping workers get fair hours and wages, saying steel laborers in the 1920s worked six days a week, 12 hours per day.

“They earned enough maybe to support their families ... I’ve always understood what unions were all about,” Brubaker said.

Cook said the Central Maryland AFL-CIO Labor Council represents close to 10,000 workers in Frederick and Washington counties, including employees at the Mack Trucks facility north of Hagerstown and the Maryland prison complex off Roxbury Road.

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