Ceremony Honors Fallen Oregon Workers


Public gathering in Salem observes Workers Memorial Day

SALEM — The family members filled chairs arranged in rows near the Fallen Workers Memorial.

One by one, labor, government, and religious officials approached a lectern. They faced the grieving family members. They spoke of lives cut short, of heartbreak, of systemic failures, and the unfinished project of making Oregon workplaces safer and healthier.

They did so as part of the Workers Memorial Day observance, held outside the Labor and Industries Building in Salem. “No job is worth the cost of a life,” said Governor Kate Brown, who read a proclamation marking April 28 as Workers Memorial Day.

More than 70 people gathered for the event, during which state Representative Tiffany Mitchell and Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle read aloud the names of 50 Oregonians who died on the job in 2018.

The ceremony served as a remembrance and as a call to reinvigorate efforts to send workers home safe to their families and friends at the end of every work day.

The Rev. Richard Davis of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Salem led an invocation and moment of silence. He urged attendees to “labor together to deconstruct the human-made hells” we create through such evils as greed and intolerance. 

At one point during the ceremony, no one spoke. Only the sounds of “Amazing Grace” filled the air, as members of the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Pipe and Drums took hold of the moment.

Oregonians who died on the job in 2018 were honored during a ceremony held at the Fallen Workers Memorial outside the Labor and Industries Building on the Capitol Mall in Salem.

Although the ceremony was a time to grieve together, Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), said grief wasn’t enough. “We need to be a little angry, because it doesn’t need to happen,” he said, noting that we know how to prevent death in the workplace.

Wood said we must go forward and fight harder for the living so that fewer families must grieve in the future. “And I promise,” he said, “to do better, with new conviction and with new commitment.”

Tom Chamberlain, president of AFL-CIO, which coordinated the ceremony, made the event’s opening and closing remarks. As the ceremony ended, Chamberlain said he hoped “someday soon” there would be no list of names, no names to be read aloud.

The names of Oregonians who died on the job in 2018:

Ronald Bielenberg

Robert Bieler

Debra Burnett

Soilo Bustillos Garcia

Pete Cappello

William Dennis

Shannon Dwinell

Kyle Estes

Dennis Ferrel

Joshua Franchini

Arcadio Garcia-Martinez

Benjamin Goff

Dmitri Gurov

Lawrence Handel

Ray Harper

Timothy Hays

Thomas Hopper

Daniel Howard

Trenton Howe

James Jarrett

Gregory Jenkins

Mark Johnson

Devin Kuhn

Joel Kuhse

Frank Ledgett

Rene Luiz-Antonio

Joshua Lyons

Richard Merila

Tyresa Monaghan

Douglas Morgan

Terry Nelson

Kenneth Phelps

Kenneth Phillips

Trenton Prince

Trevor Ramirez

Carlos Reyes-Silva

Timothy Rios

Hector Rodarte Roldan

Dennis Roderick

Dennis Rose

John Ruby

Mathew Schill

Brian Sheridan

Richard Smith

Charles Stephens

Leo Stratton

Arturo Toral Pacheco

Mark Waterman

Ronald Whiz

Herbert Williams

About Author

Aaron Corvin is the public information officer for Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services. The division enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers.

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