2011 Workers Memorial Day

Uploaded by rfilipczak on 28.04.2011

2011 Worker Memorial Day
ìMy name is Bev Farraher and I am the Minnesota Department of Transportation Metro District
Maintenance Engineer and Iím your Master of Ceremonies today. Itís an honor for me
to be here today on this Capitol Mall next to this Worker Memorial Garden. This breath
taking memorial garden is the culmination of 25 years of tireless and tenacious effort
by Mr. David Roe, former President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO and it was dedicated last
year in a very powerful and memorial ceremony on August 3rd. I hope you have an opportunity
today and in the future to read the beautiful poem except by Langston Hughes talking about
the hands that made America and spend some time here considering the workers that this
stone wall memorializes.
Todayís event is a powerful and memorable collaboration between many entities that all
have a deep and dividing interest in workerís safety. Today ASFCME Council 5, the Association
of General Contractors of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota
Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council
come together to recognize the sacrifice of many. Each day hundreds of workers put on
their gear; hard hats, vests, boots and work on our highway rights-of-way and on building
and construction projects. Todayís event is a somber occasion because this is the day
that we stop working on all of our many important projects, products and services and take special
time and make special effort to remember and honor our thirteen contractor, 33 Mn/DOT and
hundreds of building and construction trades co-workers and friends who have been killed
and the many others injured while working to build and maintain our state. This chair,
with its display of cap, vest and gloves, symbolizes the workers who are no longer with
us. At this time, letís please join with others across the state to share a moment
of silence to remember workers who were killed or injured while working to build and maintain
Thank you for your consideration of their sacrifices. Iíd like to bring your attention
to this proclamation that the Governor has issued that identifies today as Workerís
Memorial Day. As shown on your program, we welcome six speakers who will share their
thoughts about workers who have died or been injured while on the job. After these speakers,
I will present four awards to Mn/DOT employees who have shown exemplary performance in work
zone safety. In addition to our speakers and award winners, Iíd like to recognize a special
guest who has joined us today. Ed Starry Jr.ís wife, Vicky, is here with us and weíre very
pleased to have you here with us Vicky.
On behalf of us all, I thank the Mn/DOT Metro District and Central Office Staff for their
support. I also thank the dedicated and committed Worker Memorial Day Committee for their excellent
work keeping this going and making this event happen. Thank you. This event is made possible
by the organizational and financial support of our sponsors. Our sponsors this year are:
ASCFME Council 5, Local 221; Mn/DOT Office of Traffic Safety and Technology; Mn/DOT Metro
District; Mn/DOT Central Office; Club Metro; and the Association of General Contractors
of Minnesota. Please join me in thanking them for their support.
I am very pleased to welcome our first guest speaker Mike Barnes, the Minnesota Department
of Transportation Operations Division Director who is highly supportive of all of our efforts
for work zone safety and is a staunch supporter of this event. Welcome Mike.î
ìThank you Bev. And thanks to all you who are here joining us today to honor the workers
who have been killed or injured on the job. As Bev had said today itís raining, I think
had it been a week or so before we might have had a foot of snow here. So, I guess thereís
always a little bit of blessing with that. I want to thank our union partners for their
help in making these ceremonies available and having these statewide. I also appreciate
their support and emphasis on safety. They provide a valuable service to Mn/DOT and to
all our employees.
As Bev had said, thousands of men and women put on their boots and their hard hats and
they come to work each day to help build and maintain our transportation system. These
are the people that really come to work to do the publicís business and to keep our
transportation system safe and in working condition. Their work is really vital to the
state, not only to our economy but to the national economy and also for our quality
of life for all of us. But unfortunately it can be really dangerous work. Over the years
weíve had to say good-bye to far too many co-workers and friends who have been killed
in our work zones. Since 1960, weíve had, as Bev had mentioned, 33 Mn/DOT workers but
also 13 contract workers that were killed in work related incidents. As you all heard,
just a few short weeks ago, we were all shocked and saddened as you see with the picture over
here with Mike Struck from District 7. His backhoe was swept away into the Minnesota
River on Tuesday, March 22nd, while he was fighting flood waters to help keep the public
safe. Mike had been with us for 9 years and he was clearing debris on that 7 mile creek
which is on 169 between Mankato and St. Peter when his backhoe was pulled into the flood
waters and he gave the ultimate sacrifice as many as Iíve said before. He left behind
a young family but also many friends and family and co-workers that are grieving for his loss.
But as well as we agree the loss of others that have died while working on our state
Early this month, we kicked off our construction season. At the peak this summer, weíre going
to have about 250 projects that are going to be underway but along with other maintenance
projects too. All of these are going to have work zones. And I encourage all the motorists
to do drive with caution and plan ahead for their trips. You know we do a great deal of
engineering to try to make our roads safe but it really takes the cooperation of all
our citizens and all of us to help make our roads safe. Because we share our work zone
with the construction industry, itís really important that we also recognize them for
their efforts, for their part in helping promote our work zone safety. And I thank you for
that. Even though our work zone deaths have been decreasing, you know we had 13 in 2009
and 11 in 2010 which is still 11 too many. The crashes have started to, theyíre increasing.
In the same time frame, we went from 1788 crashes to over 1900 crashes. So thatís 1900
too many. Our goal remains the same for zero deaths. Weíve been working closely with other
agencies as part of the ìToward Zero Deathî initiative. And this initiative is meant to
try to reduce the serious injury crashes by using the education, the engineering, the
enforcement and then also Emergency Medical Trauma Services. I really wanted to thank
to the Minnesota State Patrol, who is here with us today and our partnership with them
has been critical with this partnership to help us improve our safety over the last years.
And I thank them for that. But finally today I really want to recognize and thank all the
workers who perform that valuable public service. You put your life on the lines everyday when
you are out there. I canít thank you enough for that. And also, to the workers that are
here in attendance today but also across the State of Minnesota, I want to thank you for
your efforts and your dedication for keeping out roads safe and reliable, Thank you.î
ìThank you Mike, itís a pleasure to have you hear with us today. It is my also great
pleasure to introduce Scott McBride. Scott has been the District Engineer of Metro District
with Mn/DOT for almost 3 years. He appreciates what our folks do in the field, he understands
the challenges and heís been a staunch supporter of efforts for work zone safety. Welcome Scott.î
ìThank you very much, Bev. And I am certainly very honored to be here and speak on behalf
of the Metro District at this Workers Memorial Day Ceremony this morning. Many of us have
known who died on the job or have been injured on in a workplace accident. In town squares
and union halls, at work sites and memorials, we remember those co-workers who lost their
lives or have been injured. Unfortunately, as we know, tragedies do occur but weíve
come together today to honor the memory of these people who died making our roadways
a safer place for all of us. As we honor the sacrifices made by these individuals, let
us all rededicate ourselves to safer work zones. It is certainly very true, that safety
doesnít happen by accident. And that is especially the case for people working on our roadways.
Their jobs, by their nature, place them in harmís way. Mn/DOT shares the work zone with
our partners as we work to build and maintain Minnesotaís roadways. AFSCME Local 221, the
Minnesota Associated General Contractors, the Minnesota State Building and Construction
Trade Council and the State Patrol are all here with us today. We stand with them and
thank them for their initiatives and supporting safer work zones. As Mike noted, we are entering
into another busy construction and maintenance season. Youíll see Mn/DOT workers out repairing
guardrails, sweeping highways, patching potholes, building roads and our troopers and FIRST
units assisting motorists who need a helping hand. Weíre here today to honor these individuals,
the frontline employees, who when they come to work risk their lives every day. And on
this special day we remember and pay tribute to those workers who have died or are injured.
Like us, they had hopes and dreams and unfortunately those hopes and dreams perished. And before
I end today, itís always good to see Vicky here. Vicky lost her husband Ed in 2004 in
a truck accident. I know this must be a difficult day for you and your family but thank you
very much for attending. And I would like to extend a special thanks to the Metro District
Workers Memorial Committee. Kevin Walker and Lisa Daniels co-chair that committee and they
do a fantastic job and itís very much appreciated what they do for all of us. Thank you all
for attending.î
ìThank you Scott, always appreciated. We have a great partnership with the Association
of General Contractors of Minnesota for safe work zones. And Dave Semerad is a speaker
that we have planned to be here. Itís unfortunate that he had another commitment that he had
to be at so he canít be here today. But I just want to point out our appreciation Ö
youíre here, you made it! This is fantastic, welcome, I didnít see you there.î
ìThank you, Pat and good morning everyone. Just a brief comment or two. We have a great
partnership with the Minnesota Building Trades with Minnesota Department of Transportation,
our State Patrol and all of the peace officers, peace officers statewide. When we get up in
the morning and prepare ourselves to go to work and say good-bye to our loved ones for
the day, one thing that we do expect is for them to return home safely at the end of the
day. And when that doesnít happen, itís a tragedy. So this summer during this construction
season as we get into or vehicles everyday and we think about what we are going to be
doing for that day and where our travels are going to take us, letís do one thing, turn
this off. Your phone call, your text message, your e-mail message can wait and if it canít
wait, turn it off and pull off to the side and be safe. Just think for a minute if we
all do that how much safer our roads will be and how much safer our workers will be
just for that one little thing that we can do. So, on behalf of AGC of Minnesota and
all of our contractors, our thoughts and prayers are with those workers who have died, their
families. And for those workers, the men and women of Minnesota who go out there every
day and work on our roads and bridges, our highways, our projects all over the state,
weíre proud of you, our thoughts are with you. Letís all make this a safer construction
season for them so we donít have to come back here next year and lament about what
happened the year before. Letís make it a safe summer so that we can be proud of our
state and of our safety record.î
ìThank you so much, Dave. Thatís an excellent message and thank you for sharing it and thank
you for being here today.
AFSCME has been a long standing, appreciated and supportive partner in work zone safety
efforts. AFSCMEís tireless and steadfast voice in calling for this one day each year
to stop and recognize the inherent risks and dangers in the workplace and to remember our
fallen workers is so very appreciated. Itís rooted in the continuously outstanding work
of people like Mike Busing, President of Council 5, welcome Mike.î
ìGood morning, before I give my brief remarks, I want to recognize David Smith. David is
a retired Mn/DOT employee and member and activist in AFSCME Local 2792. David was one of the
original organizers for Mn/DOTís Workers Memorial Day and the Transportation Worker
Memorial at the Central Office wouldnít be there today without the efforts, prodding
and work of David Smith. So thank you David and good to see you here today.
I am very honored and proud to participate in todayís Worker Memorial Day Observance
and I thank the planning committee for this opportunity. Thereís inherent danger in many
highway construction and maintenance jobs. Working with and around heavy equipment and
working in or adjacent to highway traffic often carries a risk not seen in other occupations.
Workers put their safety and their very lives on the line everyday to construct and maintain
our highways and to keep the traveling public moving safely and as efficiently as possible.
As was mentioned early, just this past month, Michael Struck, a Mn/DOT employee of the Mankato
District and an AFSCME Local 280 and Council 5 member, died tragically while clearing flood
debris from a culvert. He died doing his job. Michaelís mother, Denise, is a Mn/DOT employee
at the Mankato District and an AFSCME Local 280 member. This tragedy for the Struck family
has been compounded by the fact that Michaelís brother Andy died just three weeks before
Michael lost his life. A life in public service is a life worth recognizing and appreciating.
Those of us who are public workers should be proud of our service especially in these
difficult times. And it is truly appropriate on this day and on everyday to remember and
pay tribute to all who have lost their lives on the job or have been injured or made sick
because of working conditions. I want to offer my thanks to Mn/DOT and all the people that
put in their time and effort in preparation for todayís Worker Memorial Dayís activities.
I know thereís a lot that has to happen behind the scenes to make Workers Memorial Day respectful
and a meaningful day. Thank you.î
ìAs Mike mentioned early, Mn/DOT enjoys a very appreciated and special partnership with
the Minnesota Department of Safety and the State Patrol and itís very treasured by us
since they recognize and assist us with our work zone safety efforts. We very much appreciate
their actions and support of worker safety within all of our field activities. And at
this time, I would like to welcome Mark Dunaski.î
ìThank you and good morning. My name is Mark Dunaski, I am the Chief of the Minnesota State
Patrol. And it really is an honor to have been invited here on this Memorial Day to
honor those individuals who have worked and died on our highways and to pay respect to
those individuals who continue to go out there on days like today and do the job that has
to be done. A lot of people donít consider State Troopers, I guess, as highway workers
but in fact they really are. Weíre all out there doing kind of doing the job trying to
make the roads as safe as we possibly can, although, our job is somewhat different than
some of the other folks that are out there. I donít know that it has been mentioned today,
people talked about the safety in our state and although we have had a number of crashes
and we have our work zone crashes. Many of you donít know that for the last several
years, the state of Minnesota has ranked in the top three as having the lowest number
of fatalities on our highways per one hundred miles driven. And so while we do have our
crash and weíre working on our Toward Zero Death Program collectively with a lot of agencies,
including Mn/DOT. We are very fortunate that we have a very good infrastructure and it
doesnít happen by accident. It happens because of the DOT; because of State Patrol are all
out there doing their jobs. And while people do their jobs every day, people are traveling
on the highways and seeing troopers out there, seeing workers out there, a lot of times they
forget that each one of these individuals has a family, has a wife or husband, has grandchildren
some place and theyíre out there risking their lives. In some cases, and I speak from
the heart when I say this, Minnesota State Patrol is out there, they think about the
troopers, you see the media always covering the troopers being hit and things that are
happening. In any case, the construction workers and the DOT people put their selves at great
risk, even greater risk than the troopers, much more perilous situations being out there.
So I really have a lot of respect for the contractors, for the construction workers
and the DOT people that are out there working. The last thing that I would like to point
out was that weíre talking about our construction zones coming up this year, the work zones
that are going to be there. Keep in mind that the Legislature and the Governor have given
us an outstanding law called ìThe Ted Foss Move Over lawî, named after a trooper who
was unfortunately killed on the highways. And the law requires that you not only pull
over for emergency vehicles but also for construction for the DOT vehicles that are out there as
well. And so as was mentioned, weíre going to have a summer thatís very busy this year
and as was mentioned, put the cell phones away, donít drive distracted. On behalf of
the Minnesota State Patrol, we would certainly like to encourage people to give the troopers,
give the workers a break, move over and please try to obey the Move Over Law. Thank you.î
ìThank you Col. Dunaski, that was excellent. As we take time today to remember the sacrifices
of the people who built this state, we recognize the significant contributions of the members
of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council. This organization has advocated
for construction workers for 60 years. Please help me welcome Harry Melander, President
of the Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council.î
ìMy brothers and sisters, our friends from Mn/DOT, our partnership with our contractors,
our Legislators that help put this memorial together and especially David Roe; a man with
a vision and a plan that worked over 20 years to build a memorial for workers of Minnesota.
Today we are here and around the state and throughout our nation to recognize people
like you and me and I, laboring people, people that work with their hands their heads and
their hearts. Stand in silence to recognize those that have lost their life in the workplace.
Because of them, you and I and other Minnesotans are able to work in a State that is much safer
today than it was 50 years ago and for that fact, 5 years ago. These Minnesotans that
lost their life at the workplace are caused by products that created injures are an example
of why you and I have a much safer workplace than we had 50 years ago today. Brothers and
sisters, weíre here today to make sure that the workplace continues to be a safe place
and free from fear of injuries. Today we are here to recognize also 5 individuals that
lost their life building the peopleís house over 100 years ago. The State Building Trades
has had a long tradition of recognizing our members that have passed away with crosses
with names. And as we read their names, a black towel is draped over those individuals.
So at this time, weíd like to recognize those individuals that lost their life over 100
years ago to build the peopleís house. Those individuals are: Felix Arthur, a stone polisher,
May 5, 1898; Albert Swanson, a mold caster, April 27, 1900; Alfred Magnuson, a stone mason,
June 30, 1900; Florian Zuer, a laborer, August 4, 1900; John Corrigan, a laborer, June 26,
1903. Weíd also like to recognize those individuals that have recently passed away this year by
products that cause cancer, which is asbestos. Those individuals are: David Hederline, 74
sheet metal worker, Robert Noservold, an elevator construction, died 10/12/10 and Jerome Petrofski,
heat and frost insulator, he passed away 11/7/10 all from injuries cause by asbestos. Brothers and sisters, weíre here, we really
appreciate the opportunity to jointly do this event today. Weíd like to continue, we think
itís important that we recognize those individuals that have passed. And we need to do everything
from our Legislators to our neighborhoods to our worksites to our roads to make sure
that individuals when they leave home in the morning are sure that they get back to their
families and loved ones. Thank you and have a safe workday.î
ìThank you Harry. It is a real pleasure and an honor to partner with the council. Well
I appreciate your tenacity dealing with this weather. As Iíve said before, itís tough
for all of our co-workers that are out in this every day, regardless of what happens.
The last thing I would like to do today is very important to us all and itís recognizing
some exemplary employees whoíve really done amazing things in the workplace for work zone
safety. Each year Mn/DOT Metro District, we send out a call for employees and supervisors
to nominate someone who should be recognized for their contributions towards outstanding
work zone safety traffic control efforts and safety. This year the following exemplary
employees have been recognized for their excellent work and Iím hoping they can come forward
here. Weíve got 2 of them here, thereís a total of 4 awards. Well, like many of my
co-workers theyíre a smidge shy so Iíll just talk about them without them being up
here. Here she comes. Kristine Warner is a Transportation Generalist Senior which is
a lead worker at our Cedar Avenue Truck Station and sheís recognized for promoting work zone
safety by thorough planning and execution of complex work zones, communicating exceptionally
well and working well with external partners. Congratulations Kris. Tom Irwin cannot be
with us here today but he was functioning as a lead worker out of our traffic control
graffiti removal crew and heís recognized for his attention to detail, outstanding dedication
to his co-workers and public safety, thorough research of type, time and location of work
to ensure safe and effective traffic control and his professionalism and good attitude.
Also Mike Chambless canít be with us here today. He was functioning as a lead worker
with our traffic control crew for paving and milling operations. Heís recognized for his
superior communication and leadership in planning and executing safe and effective work zones
for his crew, being a mentor and inspiration to his crew and being a strong advocate for
safe work zones. And last but not least Bill Shegstad is a supervisor of our largest truck
stations, Mendota Heights. And Bill is being recognized for his leadership in promoting
good and compliant work zones, correcting work zones ñ a challenging situation and
helping train new employees and being a mentor to many, many of his co-workers. Congratulations
Bill. Thank you for joining me in congratulating these outstanding employees. I invite you
to walk toward the warmth of the Central Office Transportation Building to experience the
permanent Transportation Worker Memorial in the lobby of the building. There you will
see another chair with a vest, hat and gloves representing contractor and Mn/DOT workers
lost on the job. Thereís also an excellent kiosk that gives history and more additional
information on the memorial. While there, please also feel free to join up with our
folks who are giving some educational tables on the Toward Zero Death initiative and Work
Zone Safety efforts. And before we leave, Iíd like to ask you to join me again in thanking
our outstanding speakers, our sponsors and our Worker Memorial Day Committee. Thank You.
In closing, Iíd like to thank you all for coming today. Your recognition of Minnesota
workerís sacrifice to build this state as well as the ongoing efforts to promote, support
and advocate for worker and public safety. I hope that you make your way safely through
every work day. Thank you for coming.î