May 1, 2013 in Letters, Opinion

Honor workplace gains

 

The West, Texas, tragedy is a wake-up call. This terrible incident shows that whole communities are at risk when unsafe conditions prevail.

May 1, International Worker’s Day, is celebrated as a national holiday in 80 countries. This holiday originated in the United States during the struggle for the eight-hour work day. Until the late 1800s, workers endured horrific conditions. Mines and factories were appallingly unsafe, workers endured 16-hour work days and seven-day work weeks. Children worked alongside parents in these conditions. Health care and disability insurance were virtually unheard of. When conditions became intolerable, workers did the only thing they could: They organized. People fought and died in the struggle for better working conditions; conditions every American worker now takes for granted.

Today, let’s remember the lives that were lost to give us workplace standards we take for granted today. The tragedy in Texas is a reminder that, although we have come a long way, this struggle is not over. We must continue to press for safety and reasonable workplace conditions. The lives that were lost in Texas, and the lives that continue to be lost in unsafe mines and factories, deserve no less.

Frank Searles

Newport, Wash.

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