Posted on April 24, 2020

ADAO virtually stands shoulder to shoulder with individuals, trade unions, and organizations for International Workers’ Memorial Day, annually dedicated to those who have fallen victim to or been injured by accidents in the workplace, and includes those who are diagnosed with illnesses stemming from occupational asbestos exposure.

Although due to COVID-19 Workers’ Memorial Day will look a bit different this year, all around the world, people are uniting, taking a stand, and making sure their voices are heard. For more information about virtual gatherings, please click here.

To this day, more than 125 million workers worldwide are regularly exposed to asbestos. This must change, and we at ADAO know that knowledge is power. For decades, trade unions and NGOs such as Hazard and AFL-CIO have commemorated this important day with activities and awareness. The ADAO community will light a candle on Tuesday, April 28 to show our support for this important day and join an international community in remembering the dead and fighting for the living.

Two excellent resources from AFL-CIO are:

  • AFL-CIO Report: Death on the Job, The Toll of Neglect, 2019 
  • The Workers’ Memorial Day Toolkit includes talking points, information on WMD events and actions, the Trump administration’s record on COVID-19, COVID-19 facts, national and state data, and other S&H issues, among much more. 

The Day of Mourning, April 28th, had somewhat simple beginnings – but it took the persistence and the support of many like-minded individuals to come to fruition. Friends and Union colleagues, Coal-miner Colin Lambert and former journeyman insulator Dr. Ray Sentes, both had a passion for workplace safety and banning asbestos. While driving together to a CLC meeting in 1983, they were stopped by a firefighter’s funeral. The respect they witnessed from the community, family, friends, and co-workers struck a chord with them and they both thought that workers killed in other occupations should be recognized. The video commemorating the founding of the day tells the whole story behind what is now recognized as a day of remembrance all over North America. Unfortunately, Dr. Sentes passed away April 13, 2000 of Asbestosis at the age of 56.

Dr. Sentes’ daughter, Rachel shared, “April is a tough month for me because I lost my dad, but it gives me some solace knowing that I can remember him and give my respect and strength to others who are mourning their loved ones. Everyone needs to feel safe where they work and ultimately, we don’t want this day to have to be on the calendar. It’s so important to keep pushing for good health and safety practices so we don’t increase the number of fatalities from preventable workplace incidents.” 

For more ways to get involved this Workers’ Memorial Day, please visit AFL-CIO’s Workers’ Memorial Day page for details of events in a time of physical distancing. As a reminder, all of the WMD artwork and other materials for download can be found here. Please also share these digital graphics to teach your community about Workers Memorial Day.

We hope you’ll join ADAO on Tuesday, April 28 in lighting candles for those who have died from asbestos exposure. We encourage you all to submit your WMD events and actions by clicking here. We are nothing if we do not support our community.

In solidarity and united remembrance,

Linda Reinstein
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