Building Trades remember the fallen on Workers Memorial Day

web.WMD2016-crossesMembers of the Building Trades paused yesterday in St. Paul to honor members of their unions who died as a result of work-related injuries or illnesses in the previous year.

The annual Workers Memorial Day ceremony was to take place at the Workers Memorial Garden on the Capitol grounds, but organizers moved the event indoors, to the new St. Paul Labor Center, as a result of rain.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, the ceremony’s featured speaker, called for a moment of silence to remember the lives lost.

Afterward, St. Paul Building & Construction Trades Executive Secretary Don Mullin read the names of nine deceased union craftsmen, and as a bell rang out, Minneapolis Building Trades Business Manager Dan McConnell draped a black sash over crosses bearing each of the nine names.

Those remembered were:

  • Wallace F. McGrane, 92, of St. Paul Pipefitters Local 455, who contracted asbestosis.
  • Allan L. Johnson, 75, of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, who contracted esophageal cancer.
  • Roger A. Englund, 79, of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, who contracted pulmonary disease.
  • Roger Schilz, 77, of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, who contracted mesothelioma.
  • Michael L. Fuller, 68, of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 34, who contracted hepatocarcinoma.
  • Jerome Connolly, 56, of Operating Engineers Local 49, who drowned while working.
  • Jeramie M. Gruber, 36, of Roofers Local 96, who fell to his death.
  • James A Koller Jr., 53, of Roofers Local 96.
  • Andrew B. Loyas, 93, of Sheet Metal Workers Local 10, who contracted asbestosis.

In his address, Mayor Coleman commended the critical work unions have done – and continue to do – to make Americans’ jobs safer.

“But I find it a little bit ironic that on the day we pause to honor workers that have lost their lives, we’ve got a legislator up at the Capitol trying to strip union rights from our workers,” Coleman said. “That seems outrageous to me.”

Coleman referred to Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s bill tying approval of state employees’ union contracts to new limits on their collective bargaining rights, “reforms” that would mirror those introduced by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker six years ago.

[Click here to read Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Ken Peterson’s column on Workers Memorial Day.]

%d bloggers like this: