‘Bread and roses’ strike resonates
“Century later, issues still resonate,” (Jan. 11) highlights the parallels of “the haves and have nots” of 1912 and those of 2012. 100 years after the nation was captivated by horrific mill conditions and corporate greed, workers still come to our worker center, and others across the state, suffering from injuries that have no place in this day and age.
Injuries caused by their employers dramatically increasing their work load or demanding excessive production in shorter hours all in the name of profit. Just last month, a young immigrant worker was killed after getting his arm stuck in a food grinding machine at a Taunton hummus plant. Even today, the tragedy in Taunton is far from rare - an average of 400 Massachusetts workers sustain amputation injuries every year.
It's true that we have more laws and regulations and standards than in 1912. But exporting jobs and hazards to other countries has undermined enforcement of those standards and the failure of the government to ensure that workers have effective union representation at home has made it difficult for workers to speak up to defend their rights to safe jobs. We rely on immigrant workers to do some of the most dangerous work -- and then denigrate them and their contribution to our society!
100 years after this historic event, the fight is still far from over. Too many workers still labor without the protections of strong safety regulations and are denied a say in working conditions. One would think that in 2012 we wouldn’t need strikes to ensure basic working conditions and that the most vulnerable members of the 99% would be properly rewarded their hard work – but we do.
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Dorchester, 617-642-1878
Marcy Goldstein-Gelb is the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH)
Letter to the editor published in Boston Globe and BostonGlobe.com on 01/11/2012
Link: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2012/01/11/bread_and_roses_still_resonates/ (Available only to BostonGlobe.com Subscribers)