Fifty-three white crosses were placed in a lawn on the state capitol grounds Friday for an Iowa Workers Memorial ceremony.
The list of 53 Iowans who were killed on the job last year includes 10 members of the military. Family and friends of some of the victims attended the ceremony, which included remarks from Iowa Federation of Labor president Ken Sagar.
Sagar noted, in 2011, 12 Americans per day died on the job. That’s down from 38 work-related deaths per day in 1970. “Intellectually, I understand that we’ve made great progress and I too applaud that reduction from 38 people a day to 12 people a day,” Sagar said. “But, I’d really like to get to zero people, because you shouldn’t have to die to make a living.”
Sagar is calling on state and federal lawmakers to direct more money toward improving workplace safety. “Somewhere, some politician said something that stuck with me – he said, ‘don’t tell me what your priorities are, show me your budget. I can look at your budget and tell you what your priorities are.’ And what we clearly need to do in this state is make workers a higher priority. Collectively, we can do better,” Sagar said.
Family members of those who died on the job listened to Sagar’s comments while sitting in the center row of seats in a small auditorium. “I’d like to come here one year and there’s nobody in the middle section because no family lost a family member on the job,” Sagar said. “I’m looking forward to that day and I hope it comes soon.”
Lisa Inman of Ankeny attended the ceremony with her three children. Her husband, 29-year-old Jessie Inman, died in a work-related traffic accident last September. Lisa said she’s relied on others to cope with the tragedy. “I have amazing friends,” Inman said. “They were there every day and they’re still there every day.”
Jessie Inman was one of three men who were killed when a semi side-swiped another semi and several tow trucks that were stopped along I-80 near Grinnell. Friday’s ceremony ended with a bagpiper playing “Amazing Grace,” a 21-gun salute and a trumpeter playing of “Taps.”