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Wilkes-Barre Labor Council conducts event to mark OSHAct of 1970


MAY 2013, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton Edition of The Union News

Wilkes-Barre Labor Council conducts event to mark OSHAct of 1970


REGION, April 29th- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council (GWBLC) labor federation, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC, and its Community Services Committee recently held their “9th Annual Workers Memorial Candlelight Vigil” at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1776 building on Highway 315 in Pittston.

The ALF-CIO request their affiliated labor councils to conduct an event each year around April 28th to mark the anniversary date of the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHAct) in 1970.

According to Walter Klepaski, the AFL-CIO United Way Community Services Liaison, the go-between the labor community and the community based organization, the virgil is held each year by the labor federation to memorialize Luzerne County residents who died in work related accidents or incidents.

In addition to honoring the hundreds of local individuals who died over the years, many in coal mines, special honor was paid to those who lost their lives since last year’s program.

Those individuals include: Charles Kratz of Plymouth, died in September 2012 as a result of a fork lift accident at Core Mark in Hanover Township; Shailskumar Patel of Duryea, died September 2012, when struck by a piece of equipment at Letica Corporation of Pittston; Michael Martin of Hazleton, died in November 2012, while participating in a fire brigade training exercise at Luzerne County Community College (LCCC); and Eric Williams of Wapwallopen, died in February 2013, a federal Corrections Officer (CO) after being killed by an inmate at the Federal Penintentiary at Canaan.

Ed Harry, President of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Labor Council, Wayne Namey, a UFCW Local 1776 member, and Joe Padavan, President of the United Steelworkers of America (USW) Union Local 15253, were principal speakers and called on elected officials to strengthen job safety laws. They stated that although workplace safety has improved since congress enacted the OSHAct still too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers were killed on the job, an average of 13 workers each day, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, in 2010, the latest data available.