Today marks Workers’ Memorial Day across the US. Particularly in the era of Covid-19 workplace safety standards have never been more essential. Today, we grieve each preventable death from workplace safety failures, and we declare a hope for a world where there is not one more preventable death.
Rev. Heidi prayed and spoke today at the Workers’ Memorial Vigil at the State House. Her remarks on our behalf are below.
I am the Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director of the NH Council of Churches, and I bring you greetings on our behalf, and on behalf of clergy and congregations across the state of NH in support of worker justice, and worker safety. I am also the proud child of a union member, and some of my earliest memories are marching with my Mom in solidarity for better working conditions in our state. Just this year a clergy colleague and friend of mine lost her husband in a workplace accident here in NH.
Today we gather to lift up the essential nature of workplace protections. Not one more worker should have to die due to a death that could have been prevented with adequate worker safety protections. Our friends and neighbors, all of us, deserve to go to work in conditions that prioritize health and safety. Acutely so in the era of Covid-19 where healthy respiration, and essential infectious disease protocol are not optional. There is an old worker justice anthem that includes the line “We’re saying we come here to work. We don’t come here to die.”
And yet, of course, some of us do. We lose our lives at the hands of profit, corporations, or neglect. So today we gather in solidarity. These are not just statistics, or numbers, but our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We love them, we miss them. My faith tradition tells me that Jesus stands on the side of the worker, the one who labors in the vineyard, and we are called into solidarity with a reminder that we belong to one another. After all, workers are the very backbone of our economy.
We gather also to remember those who are no longer with us.
In that spirit, will you pray with me?
Spirit of Love and Soldiarity,
We gather today to remember those who have died in the last few years, those who have lost their lives due to their safety being compromised at work.
We pray today for the laborers, the workers in the vineyards and the fiields, those who do the essential jobs we cannot survive without, those whose labor is often invisible, or unnamed, those who work without protections, and those whose safety is consistently at risk in the workplace.
We give thanks for the labor movement, the organizers, OSHA, the workplace safety advocates, the union reps, and more.
We lift up the names of those spoken and unspoken who have died or been killed in their workplace. We prepare to share them now aloud, or in our hearts. They are not forgotten, and our work continues on their behalf.
We work and pray for a world where all are safe, healthy, and cared for in their workplaces, and where basic rights and dignity are guaranteed to all workers, and each human being.