Guest Column

Respect!/¡El Respeto: Workers' Memorial Day March Fosters Community, Respect

Marchers travel through the streets of New Brunswick, calling for a brighter future for workers and their children. Credits: Amy Barenboim

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -- In a room aglow with orange, the color of the pro-worker nonprofit New Labor, a large and diverse crowd gathered at Anshe Emeth Synagogue. The sense of community was palpable as children, parents, workers and supporters gathered. Everyone seemed to know each other as people hugged and smiled.

This was not like some other rallies, filled with anger and discontent. As children marched beside their parents, it became clear that this was about hope for the future.

New Labor and other organizations, such as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and United Steelworkers, came together to raise awareness for worker’s rights at the Workers' Memorial Day March on a Sunday in late April.

Sign Up for E-News

The first Workers' Memorial Day occurred on April 28, 1971. It celebrated the creation of OSHA, a move made in response to public demands for safer work places. The day honors the 5,000 workers who die each year on job sites.

New Labor advocates for workers' rights, specifically for safe working conditions. The organization operates under five core values: working together, respect, equality, capturing and sharing power.

Many impassioned speakers presented testimonials, all of which were translated into Spanish by a live interpreter, a testament to the inclusive and democratic nature of New Labor. Lou Kimmel, co-founder of New Labor, said solemnly, "People don't go to work to die. They go to make a living."

In a sober moment, Pat Jones of OSHA listed the names of 45 workers who died on the job in 2016. A representative from United Steelworkers said every other week someone in his industry dies on the job. The statistics helped to anchor the need for the rally.

But despite those tragic statistics, the most gripping part of the rally was the sheer diversity of the crowd. The number of children was shocking, yet strangely fitting. The issue of labor rights is inherently cross-generational. That was made clear by a quote from one man who died on the job: "I work to help get us out of the poverty our parents grew up in."

It is poignant that at an event about economic advancement, those who will be most affected by that advancement--children--were overwhelmingly presented. And it is children who will eventually take up the mantle. They handed out fliers and T-shirts. They seemed genuinely invested in the movement. The event, after all, was not only about preserving the safety of loved ones in the work force, but ensuring a brighter future for the kids.

In the crowd assembled outside the synagogue, each person held orange signs. The march proceeded through residential areas of New Brunswick. The crowd cheered, "Ni una muerte más!” and "Not one more death!” They drew families out of their homes and into the streets. Several men pushed forth a coffin, symbolizing the death that has taken place--and that the organizations hope to end. The march culminated on George Street, bringing issues of the working people of New Brunswick to the commercialized, Rutgers-heavy downtown.

The march not only brought together workers, but the entire community. It made sense. After all, New Labor is about "working together,” and "sharing power.” These are values not only in name, but are represented by the actions of its members, and the community it has created.

They are values that our children will carry forth.

Amy Barenboim, a New Jersey native, is an English major at Rutgers University. She is also interested in theater and philosophy. On most days you can find her reading a book under a tree. She writes a regular column for TAPinto New Brunswick.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - May 23, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!


SEASIDE HEIGHTS - Sex can be an almost-religious experience, but it seems a bit excessive to copulate under a statue of the Virgin Mary in a Catholic church's outdoor prayer garden. Yet, that's where ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 22, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

MANVILLE - If marijuana becomes legal in New Jersey, here's another town where you won't be able to buy it: Manville. The mayor and council unanimously voted to prohibit any sale of weed - recreational and medicinal - within Manville's borders. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 21, 2018

The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!

STATEWIDE - Should public school students be allowed to attend schools in other towns? That's the big, controversial question in a lawsuit filed against the state that looks to end what some consider to be the worst school segregation in the nation. The ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 18, 2018


IN COURT - Sounds like a cheesy thing to do, but the NJ Turnpike Authority has gone to court for years trying to stop a pizzeria chain whose logo is suspiciously similar to our beloved Garden State Parkway sign. Sure, nobody wants drivers searching for an on-ramp to end ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 17, 2018


MOUNTAINSIDE - Oh, where to begin describing this 46-page lawsuit against two Mountainside cops? A detective sergeant placing his testicles on co-workers' food. And throwing poop-smeared toilet tissue at them. And defecating in someone's boots. And taunting with a dildo dubbed "Big Blue" he liked to wave in cops' faces, as he chased ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 16, 2018


ATLANTIC CITY - Happy days are here again, as the state's once gasping gaming resort is expecting sports betting will rake in $150 million to $175 million a year in new, glorious profits - courtesy of your pals on the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, ecstatic Stockton University officials believe, this recharged gambling mecca will bring in a whole new ...

Rutgers Athletics Signs Dyehard Fan Supply to New Multi-Year Agreement

May 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Rutgers Athletics has selected Dyehard Fan Supply, an event and retail merchandise marketing and e-commerce company, as the official merchandising partner for the Scarlet Knights in a new multi-year agreement.Dyehard will handle game day and event merchandising for Rutgers Athletics.

“We’re excited to expand gameday merchandising options and elevate ...

Newark man given 22-year sentence for kidnapping, sexual asault of Rutgers student

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Newark man was sentenced Friday to 22 years in prison for the 2016 kidnapping and sexual assault of a Rutgers University student on the school campus in New Brunswick.

Michael Knight, 40, of Newark must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement today.

Superior Court Judge ...

Rutgers center battles noise pollution nationwide

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Eric Zwerling got a call this week from a man was living next to a fitness center, complaining he repeatedly heard the loud thud heavy free weights and medicine balls hit the floor.

The man was recovering from having a pace maker in his chest and wondering of the impact of the noise from the gym.

“I’ve received thousands of calls,” said Zwerling, ...


Here's How to Help Protect Young Athletes from Injury: Let Them Play Multiple Sports

May 1, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick:

One of the responsibilities that parents take most seriously is protecting their children from injury, whether it is buckling seat belts in a car or wearing a helmet while riding a bike. And when their kids become teenagers and want to participate in sports or other activities, parents do everything they can to keep their sons and daughters from getting ...

Department of Human Services Awards Teens for Creativity in Celebrating Their Family Tree

May 24, 2018

(TRENTON) - The New Jersey Department of Human Services on Wednesday honored 12 New Jersey high school and middle school students for their winning entries in the 2018 New Jersey Teen Media Contest, which celebrated the students’ artistic and written word portrayal of how their family tree may look.

The contest hosted by the department’s Division of Family Development focused on ...