State News

Workers' advocates march from site of fatal construction accident

Posted April 28, 2015

— The site of a fatal construction accident in Raleigh was the starting point for a Tuesday march to remember workers who died or suffered a serious injury or illness on the job.

Members of the AFL-CIO, the North Carolina Council of Churches, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the North Carolina Justice Center and Student Action with Farmworkers marked International Workers' Memorial Day by praying for three construction workers killed last month when scaffolding collapsed at the Charter Square high-rise in downtown Raleigh.

Participants in the demonstration also held up placards containing the names of the 109 North Carolinians who died on the job in 2013 before marching up Fayetteville Street to the state Department of Labor offices.

The group said Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry hasn't addressed issues such as child labor and contract workers.

"We certainly believe that our labor commissioner should do better by North Carolina's workers," said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the state chapter of the AFL-CIO. "Over the years, she's consistently shown that she's more interested in protecting employers than employees."

Labor spokeswoman Dolores Quesenberry called such accusations "irresponsible."

"There is no validity to these accusations. This event is clearly sponsored by organized labor, and the motives behind their accusations speak for themselves," Quesenberry said in a statement. "Both state and federal statistics clearly show a consistent decrease in workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities since Commissioner Berry took office."


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