Rochester—On April 28, NYSDOT Region 4 hosted a Workers Memorial Day service at the Clover Street facility to honor our fallen CSEA and PEF brothers and sisters who died while working on the job.

Speakers and presenters at the event included master of ceremonies CSEA Local 506 President Brian Ossont; Chris Reeve, NYSDOT Region 4 Representative; NYSDOT Health & Safety Specialist Cory Martindale; CSEA Western Region President Steve Healy; Matt Oravec, PEF and bagpiper Jeremy Button.

At the event, safety cones, a hardhat and a safety vest adorned the front yard of the facility adjacent to a memorial monument which served as a stunning visual reminder of NYSDOT colleagues who lost their lives in service to the state of New York.

Workers Memorial Day (April 28) is not only a day to remember those who have died while on the job, but also a day to renew our collective commitment to the fight for safe and healthy workplaces for all workers throughout the world.

Speakers at the event asked members to have conversations with co-workers and supervisors about safety risks to find out how we can all work together to make sure everyone has all the tools and resources they need to be safe and healthy at work.

The overarching message of today’s ceremony concluded with a re-commitment to strengthening and enforcing our present health and safety laws and standards—as well as providing education, training and financial assistance when needed.

On this solemn day, our brothers and sisters from NYSDOT management, CSEA and PEF mourned those who we have lost, but at the same time brought awareness and resolve to understand what’s at stake to protect those who are still on the job.

CSEA Western Region President Steve Healy

The following remarks were delivered by CSEA Western Region President Steve Healy:

“First of all, I would like to thank NYS DOT Region 4 for hosting this event—my name is Steve Healy and I am the CSEA Western Region President. I am here today to offer words of comfort and hope on behalf of the 46 thousand CSEA members from Western New York.

Today on Workers Memorial Day, CSEA union members and other workers around the world will remember those who went to work — who were injured or killed on the job and never came home. This day is dedicated to them.

Fifty years ago on this date, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect, promising every worker the right to a safe job.

The law was won because of the tireless efforts of the Labor Movement, which organized for safer working conditions and demanded government action. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections that have made jobs safer and has saved many lives.

But our work is not done. Each year, thousands of workers are killed, and millions more suffer injury or illness because of dangerous working conditions. Tragically, CSEA has lost more than 57 members in work zone fatalities since 1983. We must remain vigilant in our work to keep our workplaces safe and healthy as possible.

CSEA continues to support legislation that will improve the safety of workers in highway work zones, including increased penalties for assaulting or menacing a highway worker or intruding into an active work zone.

CSEA is also advocating for a work zone speed camera program that will prevent more injuries before they can happen. Work zone speed cameras have a proven record of success in states where they have been implemented.

For example, Maryland saw an 80 percent reduction in speeding violations and a 50 percent drop in fatalities after utilizing speed cameras. There is no reason why we can’t make use of these same policies here in the Empire State. We encourage everyone to visit our CSEA website to find out more about this initiative.

And finally, while today we mourn those who we have lost, at the same time we should always remember to fight like hell to protect those who are still on the job.

Again, on behalf of everyone from CSEA, thank you for allowing me to share CSEA’s message with you today.”

-Ove Overmyer

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About Author

Ove Overmyer is an award winning photojournalist and writer who has promoted the virtue of working people and the value of public service throughout his career. His work has been published by many well-respected international media outlets, including PBS Moyers & Co., Steward Update UCS Worker Institute Cornell ILR, CBS News, The Weather Channel, SCI-FY Channel, Associated Press and LOGO-TV. Before joining the CSEA Communications Department staff in 2015, Overmyer was a CSEA member employed by the City of Rochester and an officer of the union for more than 18 years. He covers a 14 county area of Western New York and lives in Rochester, NY.

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