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Recap: Workers' Memorial Day 2015

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Praying for the dead. Fighting for the living!

About two dozen Raleigh workers, advocates, community members, and faith leaders gathered for an International Workers Memorial Day observance on Tuesday near the site of a deadly downtown Raleigh construction accident in March to memorialize workers who have died or suffered illness or injury on the job and to call on North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry to do a better job protecting the health and safety of workers.

Watch this movie about our IWMD observance.

Following the press conference, observants went on a memorial walk to the North Carolina Department of Labor, where they delivered about fifty personalized letters to Commissioner Berry calling on her stop undercounting dead North Carolina workers and to seek advice from her OSHA advisory council, which she has not convened in five years.

Check out photos from our IWMD observance. (View more photos here.)

Read our IWMD op-ed by MaryBe McMillan in the News & Observer, "NC workers deserve more than Berry providing".

Videos of the Press Conference

Nadeen Bir-Zaslow, outreach and advocacy director for Student Action with Farmworkers, emceed the event, delivering opening and closing remarks.

Rev. Peg Williams of the Community UCC of Raleigh delivered our Prayer for the Dead.

MaryBe McMillan of the NC State AFL-CIO faulted Commissioner Berry for seeming more interested in protecting employers than employees from death and injury on the job.

Carol Brooke, staff attorney for the Workers' Rights Project of the NC Justice Center, remembered all the workers who fall through the gaps in our laws, like those victimized by worker misclassification.

Raul Jiminez, organizer with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), talked about the dangers farmworkers face and how they are organizing to overcome exploitation by corporations like Reynolds.

Yessy Bustos, daughter of a farmworker family and alumna with Student Action with Farmworkers, read the obituary of farmworker J. Estanislao Gonzalez.

Press Clips

AFL CIO, Workers Memorial Day (video) (N&O):

Labor group presses NC government on worker deaths (N&O):

Workers' advocates march from site of fatal construction accident (WRAL):

Advocates demand more from NC to keep workers safe (WNCN):


In shadow of deadly accident, advocates call for transparency in reporting of worker deaths (Associated Press):

Dereliction of duty (NC Policy Watch):

Prayers Today on Workers’ Memorial Day (NC Council of Churches):