JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Families and loved ones of some of the 104 workers who died while working in Missouri over the past year gathered in the Capitol rotunda Thursday afternoon for the annual Missouri Workers’ Memorial Day.
The families were presented with flags flown over the capitol after speeches by labor leaders and elected officials remembering their own encounters with workplace deaths.
“It really hits home how important this ceremony is when we talk to families face to face about their situation,” said Ryan McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Michael Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, told supporters that Workers’ Memorial day was important not just to memorialize, but to look to improve workplaces.
“Workers’ memorial day is truly an important day and it’s important that we are here today,” he said. “We recognize that all work has risk. … It’s important to keep that in mind.”
Sen. Gina Walsh, D-St. Louis, lost her husband in a workplace accident and also spoke about making workplaces safer.
“As a society we should strive to make that a reality,” she said. She wants to see changes to make driving safer, including the passage of current legislation banning text messaging while driving and adding roadside workers to the move over laws in place.
“Sadly, we live in a world where that is not yet a reality,” she said. “It will take all of us to make sure Missouri workers won’t have to sacrifice their health, safety or lives to provide for their families.”
The ceremony included bagpipes and, at one point, a singer was accompanied by Kansas City Sens. Jason Holsman and Ryan Silvey on guitar. Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, read a poem and prayed.
McKenna mentioned during the ceremony that groundbreaking Missouri Workers’ Memorial on the Capitol grounds is expected soon.