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River Valley’s first worker’s memorial ceremony
RUMFORD -- A small crowd of 20 gathered on Sunday for the first memorial ceremony to honor workers who have died because of workplace accidents, illness or disease.
Speakers included Senator John Patrick, who spoke about the needless deaths that occur and that no one should die trying to make a living.
Representative Sheryl Briggs applauded the efforts of local 900 and that she is proud to be invited to be a part of the ceremony. President of the Maine AFL-CIO Don Berry, listed some of the occupations common with workplace deaths, he also spoke of the strides taken regarding safely working with asbestos and silica.
USW trustee and New Page Safety Advocate Scot Grassette reminded everyone of how far we’ve come in safe work practices, but there is still much work to do the right things. Reporting unsafe conditions and refusing to do unsafe work is key in keeping ourselves safe on the job.
USW president Ron Hemmingway closed the ceremony by reading aloud 21 names of Maine residents who died in 2012 from workplace followed by a ring of a bell.
Organizers were pleased with the turn out considering only a brief time to promote the event. They are in hopes of having a larger crowd next year for the initiation of Maine’s first physical memorial to honor workers and the families, friends and co-workers they left behind.
The memorial will be constructed of a giant gear that was used to turn a part of #11 paper machine in the Rumford mill. It will be stood up and mounted in cement, and will be completed by attaching a 14-inch bronze plaque to the hub of the gear.
Grassette says, “Next year, we will have the memorial completed and possibly have live music and a luncheon for the event.”