(CNSNews.com) – With high praise for labor unions and criticism for the manufacturing industry’s history, President Barack Obama declared Sunday to be “Workers Memorial Day.”
In the proclamation, Obama cited deplorable work conditions in factories during the early 20th Century.
“A combination of shoddy equipment and fatigue from long shifts made serious injury and death all too common,” the president said. “Career-ending injuries often led to poverty and starvation. From mine shafts to railroads to factory floors, workers began to speak out.”
He then praised organized labor and government regulation stopping these injuries and deaths.
“Thanks to generations of union organizers and advocates, conditions slowly improved,” Obama said. “But it was not until decades later that our laws assured the right to a safe workplace. The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 established comprehensive health and safety standards for the mining industry, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 enacted similar standards for all workers.”
Obama continued that his administration was committed to maintaining federal regulations for workplace safety.
“These statutes remain the cornerstone of our protections today, and my administration remains committed to enforcing them by ensuring workers know their rights, worksites comply with the law, and wrongdoers are held accountable,” Obama’s proclamation said.
He added, “Today, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost a loved one to a workplace accident or work-related illness. But we owe them more than prayers. We owe them action and accountability. While we cannot eliminate all risk from the world's most dangerous professions, we can guarantee that when a worker steps up to an assembly line or into a mine shaft, their country stands alongside them, protecting their safety and their stake in the American dream.”