Workers’ Memorial Day honors those killed on the job in North Dakota & Minnesota
Union leaders are calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) – Leaders from the Northern Plains United Labor Council are speaking out about the fight for safer jobs on this Workers’ Memorial Day.
Eighteen names accompanied by flowers sat side-by-side inside the Fargo-Moorhead Labor Temple Wednesday afternoon. They’re North Dakota workers who were killed on the job last year, two of which had contracted the coronavirus.
“I’m here every year, but this year in particular is really hard,” said Dan Jackson of Oakes, North Dakota.
For Jackson, one name on the list stands out.
“I come here honoring all workers that passed away on the job. I personally have worked with one of them, and so it’s a personal touch to me,” he said.
Tom Ricker with the United Steelworkers International Union says stronger worker protections are needed in North Dakota, Minnesota and across the country.
Ricker said, “Speaking up for labor rights is within every worker’s right, and we shouldn’t lose jobs because of it.”
That’s why union leaders, including President of the North Dakota AFL-CIO Landis Larson, are calling on Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.
“The PRO Act would be a boon especially for unions because they’re going to do more OSHA safety standards, infectious disease standards which have been sorely lacking during this pandemic, they’re going to keep employers from harassing or firing during organizing campaigns and keep them from interfering,” Larson explained.
“In the 18 years I’ve been at a union job, unions have helped my life ten-fold,” Jackson added. He says that’s because of better benefits, pay and protections; but at the end of the day, it comes back to those names on the list.
“They no longer have a voice and unions are all about having a voice for workers. Those workers do not have a voice now so I feel like I’m their voice for them,” Jackson said.
The PRO Act passed the House back in March. President Joe Biden told the Senate to pass it during his address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday night.