“We lost 39 people this year that went to work in the morning and never returned,” Dearden said. “…If we could have 39 seconds of silence in their memory — thank you.”
April 28 has been designated by the nation’s labor unions as “Workers Memorial Day” because that’s the day in 1971 that OSHA — the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration — opened its doors.
“Countless lives have been saved over the years because of OSHA,” Dearden said. “It was bipartisan, a Democratic congress, a Republican president — President Nixon — who signed it.”
Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, was an active member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union during his career in the state court system. He’s been a member of the Iowa Senate since 1995 and a vocal supporter of the labor movement.
“Today we mourn for the dead and fight for the living,” Dearden said.
Labor unions have events planned at sites around the state. A ceremony was held at 11 o’clock on the state capitol grounds. There was an event at 12:30 on the pedestrian mall in downtown Iowa City. Workers Memorial Day events will be held in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque Sioux City and Waterloo this evening.