Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — LEWISTON — Saturday morning was a time for mourning, as the Niagara-Orleans Central Labor Council held its annual Workers Memorial Day at their monument erected off Military Road.
A total of 52 names were read aloud, as nearly 100 labor union representatives and members gathered to remember the ones who died in Niagara in the line of duty, whether working on a massive site like the Niagara Power Project or a smaller-scale job like a single building.
Locally, working conditions have been less dangerous. Only one union member has died on the job since 2005. But the amount of job-related sickness and long-term suffering still are an issue, according to Jim Briggs, president of the labor council.
“Last year, I had a false positive,” he said. “Unfortunately for the 13 people who worked with me in the plant at the time, they weren’t so lucky.”
The federal and state governments have taken steps forward over the last few decades, the council said, going back to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. Before then, life was difficult for workers who had to deal with the real possibility of not returning home to their families.
For some, like the workers who died constructing the Robert Moses Power Plant, life was extremely dangerous. Of the 52 names read as part of the ceremony, 20 were from the largest public works undertaking in Niagara County.
Timothy Marney was one of them. Marney, born in 1931 in a town along the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York, came to Lewiston for the promise of work. In 1960, he fell from a crane. Fifty-four years later, his three children joined the workers memorial recognition ceremony for the first time. Ken Glennon of the Hard Hats of Niagara presented them with a medal and some flowers recognizing their father’s sacrifice.