MEMORIAL DAY REFLECTIONS
NTC Video Honors Fallen Workers, Promotes Safety First Culture at UAW-FCA
Apr 28, 2017
By Ron Russell
Working safely doesn’t happen by accident, and safe jobs are every worker’s right.
That’s the urgent message from UAW and FCA US LLC leadership today as they join employees in commemorating Workers Memorial Day 2017 to remember those who have lost their lives on the job over the years.
The observance, which occurs annually on April 28, also serves as a call to action to create safer jobs by urging FCA employees – as well as workers everywhere – to be more vigilant to prevent accidentnnnCaptures in the future.
First commemorated in 1989, Workers Memorial Day is sponsored by the UAW, AFL-CIO, other unions and supporters of organized labor throughout the world.
All UAW-FCA locations around the country are observing a moNJMEM17Capturement of silence on all shifts today, displaying the Workers Memorial Day poster and lowering flags to half-staff to honor the memory of fallen workers.
A 16-minute video produced by the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center also is being shown in all facilities to focus attention on workplace safety. It features voices of employees from Warren (Mich.) Truck Assembly, UAW Local 140; Warren Stamping, UAW Local 869, and the Warren and Sherwood Parts Distribution Center (PDC) Complex, UAW Local 1248.
The foremost message and recurring theme in the video is clear. Whether you’re a top decision-maker at FCA US headquarters or work on the shop floor, safety is everyone’s responsibility to help ensure that all workers return home to their families safe and sound, alive and healthy, once their shift ends.
It boils down to employees maintaining a “Be Your Brothers’ and Sisters’ Keepers” mindset when confronting potential safety hazards.
“We’re all responsible for one another, whether you’re a union person or management,” said Local 1248 member Janay Johnson, a Pick Packer at the Sherwood International PDC.
“If a safety hazard is near, it’s my responsibility to have your back, and it’s my responsibility to be your eyes behind your head.”
The video also includes safety perspectives from UAW local leaders, plant managers, health and safety specialists and top union and company executives. Each has a very personal and poignant Workers Memorial Day message.
UAW Vice President Norwood H. Jewell, director of the union’s Chrysler Department, called on UAW members to use common sense and good safety practices to create a workplace as injury-free as possible.
“Everyone must make safety their overriding priority,” he said. “It’s a 24/7 initiative that everyone must observe and practice to ensure that all of us can live a healthy and prosperous life.”
Jewell said the recent heavy emphasis on safety by the UAW and FCA US has paid off, noting that there were no workplace fatalities at company facilities during the past year.
However, he added that hasn’t always been the case. “Sadly we have lost too many brothers and sisters in accidents at our UAW-FCA facilities in past years,” he said. “Today we remember those brothers and sisters. Today also is the time to recommit our efforts in health and safety.”
Jewell issued a challenge to his members and their management counterparts. “Let’s have 2017 go down in history as the year when safety in the workplace became the single-most important factor for all of us,” he said. “Safety must be our No. 1 priority.”
Brian Harlow, Vice President of Manufacturing, FCA – North America, said Jewell’s goal is attainable if everyone takes personal responsibility for safety, while applying World Class Manufacturing and World Class Logistics methodologies to create an accident-free workplace.
“This is our pathway for achieving benchmark safety performance …’” he said. ”World class safety must be achieved in our facilities – we cannot let it be optional.”
Harlow added that a holistic approach that stresses health and safety awareness off the job as well as at work is a key to success. “This will help all of us to have a mindset (necessary) to develop a sustainable 24/7 safety culture,” he said. “To be successful, we all need to be leaders in our area of influence.”
According to Glenn Shagena, Head of Employee Relations, FCA – North America, such a culture must encourage everyone from union and management to take ownership of safety. And that includes learning from mistakes to help make zero tolerance for injuries a daily reality.
“Accidents do happen sometimes despite our best efforts to be careful,” he said. “We need you to be constantly aware of your surroundings … while performing your daily work tasks. By doing so, you can help prevent accidents from happening.”
Shagena said Workers Memorial Day is an opportune moment for all employees to rededicate themselves to being safety champions.
“This is a time to reflect on the accidents that have happened at work, and a time to renew our commitment to putting the right safety efforts in place,” he said. “We already have world class people at FCA and, together, we can protect our employees, eliminate injuries and achieve world class safety levels.”
Perhaps the biggest threat to UAW-FCA’s emerging safety culture is complacency – a concern that’s on the mind of Local 140’s Laurine Hayden, a member of the Local Joint Health and Safety Committee at Warren Truck Assembly.
“Safety means not relying on luck, and not taking things for granted,” she said. “At the end of the day, (it means) going home and making memories with your loved ones.”
The Workers Memorial Day 2017 video may be viewed from the UAW-Chrysler In Motion section of this website’s homepage.
Page designed by Jonathan Powell, NTC Communications