HARTFORD - A permanent workers memorial was dedicated in Hartford's Bushnell Park on Workers' Memorial Day, culminating a 20 year effort by the Connecticut AFL-CIO. The stone monument honors all workers who where injured or lost their lives while at their work site. The inscription quotes Mother Jones, "Mourn for the Dead - Fight for the Living."
John Olsen, Connecticut AFL-CIO president, lead the 20-year struggle. He spoke on the steps of the State Capitol to the crowd that gathered to commemorate the memorial on April 28.
A large group of legislators, led by State Senator Edith Prague and House Majority Leader Chris Donovan, presented a citation and pledged to continue to fight for workers' safety.
A group of striking District 1199 workers joined the march from the State Capitol to the memorial in Bushnell Park. Olsen recognized the workers whose main strike issue is health care benefits.
The names of each worker killed this year were read followed by a bell ring. Among those named were the workers killed at the Kleen Energy Plant explosion in Middletown in February.
Workers Memorial Day was initiated by the AFL-CIO after the collapse of the Connecticut L'Ambiance Plaza in Bridgeport, with a devastating loss of workers' lives. More than 100 events are planned this year throughout the world to recognize and remember workers injured or killed on the job.
Nationally 5,071 workers died on the job and 3.7 million were injured in 2008 according to the most recent figures in the new report by the AFL-CIO.
It took 20 years to achieve the memorial because of objections to the location on state capitol grounds or in Bushnell Park. The persistence of the Connecticut AFL-CIO won that struggle.
Photo by Tom Connolly