While workers memorialized the dead, Commissioner Berry celebrated shallow victories
About fifty people including labor advocates and faith leaders and surviving family members turned out to remember 150 people who died in North Carolina in 2015 while working for a better life, at a memorial service on the grounds of the Old State Capitol in Raleigh, today.
The memorial, which is held every year to commemorate the lives of workers who died on the job, used to be organized by the North Carolina Department of Labor before Cherie Berry was elected commissioner in 2000.
Speakers this year included Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland of the NC Council of Churches, Dr. Farrukh Hakeem of the Shaw University Mosque, Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue, Wendy’s worker Earl Bradley with Raise Up for $15, and ironworker Caleb Sanderlin, JRRIC in Charlotte.
Shara Anderson also participated in the service this year in honor of her husband, Craig, a CWA member at SPX Transformer Solutions in Goldsboro, who suffocated when he entered a transformer to rescue a coworker, Dennis Martin, who died as well.
Speakers and volunteers at the memorial service took turns ringing a bell 150 times in honor of those who died, and Mary Johnson Rockers of the North Carolina Farmworker Advocacy Network performed the song Bread & Roses.
— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) April 28, 2017
North Carolina Department of Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry has never attended an observance of Workers’ Memorial Day, an international day of remembrance for all those who have died while working for a better life. Ms. Berry declined our invitation to attend the service this year and instead spent the day giving out gold stars for safety awards at a corporate banquet in Charlotte.
“That’s a shame because the public deserves to know that their elected Labor Commissioner not only mourns those who have died on the job but what she will do to fight for the living,” said NC Alliance for Retired Americans President Bill Dworkin in an op-ed published today.
At the conclusion of the observance in Raleigh, mourners carried their photos and memorial boards listing the names of the dead and marched around the Capitol to the NCDOL office to hand-deliver a formal invitation for Commissioner Berry to attend Workers Memorial Day in 2018. Add your name to the online invitation for Ms. Berry to show up!