Group seeks more funds for worker compensation

Wednesday marked Workers Memorial Day – an international day of remembrance for workers who have been killed or injured on the job.

The protesters held signs with phrases like “No one should have to die to make a living!”

“We have to stand up and demand dignity and respect,” said Sarah White, a catfish worker and president of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights. “Workers are dying, and they are being injured.”

White noted that this year’s event fell as Mississippi mourned the loss of at least four oil rig workers from a deadly explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi men are among 11 workers missing and believed to have died after the explosion about 50 miles off the Gulf Coast last week.

Gov. Haley Barbour declared Tuesday a Day of Prayer for both the victims of Mississippi’s severe storm over the weekend, and for families who lost loved ones in the oil rig explosion.

Barbour ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff through Friday as part of a period of mourning.

“We work in dangerous jobs,” White said. “It’s our right – working 12- and 13-hour (a day) jobs – to have respect.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 80 work-related deaths in Mississippi in 2008, the last year for which BLS has statistics available.

She said caps to workers’ compensation should be “tossed” so that workers have more time to recuperate from their injuries.