This past weekend, we commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day to recognize the sacrifices American workers have made for our country. While we’ve come a long way, our work as policymakers is far from finished.
There was a time when coal miners had nothing but a canary between them and catastrophe. They didn’t have a union strong enough or a government that cared enough to protect them. I wear a pin depicting a canary in a birdcage in place of the Senate pin as a constant reminder of all that workers have given to this country – and how important it is that we do our part to support them and keep them safe on the job.
In 2016, 5,190 workers suffered fatal work injuries, a seven percent increase since 2015. So while tragedies on the job have become rarer – as we’ve passed laws protecting our workers and making our workplaces safer – we have much more work to do, and we cannot stop working until all workplace fatalities are events of the past.
We must also honor the workers who have lost their lives by recommitting ourselves to restoring the value of work, including strong worker protections. Even though Americans are working harder than ever before, wages remain stagnant and big corporations skirt their obligations to employees. Washington politicians continue to let them off the hook.
Last year, Congress voted to gut Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules so companies can hide workplace injuries and renege existing policies that help create a safer workplace. I’ve joined my colleagues in continuing to push this Administration for better workplace safety standards, and for health coverage for workers so that they are able to take care of themselves.
I will continue to fight like hell for every last Ohioan putting in an honest day’s work. We need to raise workers’ wages and benefits, give workers more power in the workplace, help workers save for retirement, and encourage more employers to invest in their workforce.
Somewhere along the way, Washington politicians forgot that American workers stand at the core of our nation’s economy, holding the whole system together.
Let’s remind them together.