St. Louis Labor Council’s Union Labor Mass remembers workers killed on the job


REMEMBERING WORKERS: Rev. Dr. Teresa Mithen Danieley, leads an interfaith prayer outside the Shrine of St. Joseph remembering workers lost in 2022-23. – Labor Tribune photo

Downtown St. Louis – Union workers who died on the job or passed away in 2022-23 were remembered at the 43rd Annual Robert O. Kortkamp Union Labor Mass and Interfaith Prayer Service here on May 7 at the Shrine of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the worker.

Special remembrance was given this year to two workers who died on the job:

Ronald Drennen, Operating Engineers Local 148.

Jean Kuczka, American Federation of Teachers Local 420, who died saving her students from a shooter who entered her classroom at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis (CVPA).

They and others who passed away in 2022-23 were recognized and remembered with an interfaith prayer service in the church courtyard officiated by the Rev. Dr. Teresa Mithen Danieley of the Episcopal Dioceses of Missouri, followed by a traditional Blessing of the Bread conducted by Friar Ed Mundwiller of St. Anthony of Padua.

“We gather to remember all workers who have been injured or killed as a result or occupational illness, accident or trauma while earning their living,” Danieley said. “As a parent of three children in St. Louis Public Schools, I ask that all of us, in the memory of Ms. Kuczka, work for funding of public schools in our state, and work, as the students of CVPA said, in Jefferson City for red flag laws. That’s the least we can do.”

Red flag laws, otherwise known as Extreme Risk Protective Orders, are a tool law enforcement and others can use when somebody is clearly at high risk of doing something with a firearm, but they can’t be arrested because no crime has been committed and they don’t appear to need a mental health hold or qualify for one.

Missouri has no such law; neighboring Illinois does.

Every April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO across America observe Workers’ Memorial Day to remember those who have been injured, contracted an illness, or died as a result of simply doing their jobs. The date is the anniversary of the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which was enacted on April 28, 1970.

On an average day, 150 workers lose their lives as a result of preventable workplace injuries and occupational diseases.

The unions of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council host the annual Union Labor Mass and Interfaith Prayer Service on the Sunday following the national observance.

Bishop Mark Rivituso celebrated mass inside the church.

“What we do serves a greater purpose,” Bishop Rivituso said. “There’s some principles that we’re always mindful of in doing our work in our trades.

“We remember that first of all, we always reaffirm that every life has purpose and value and dignity. We also remember that what we do enhances the family, the community, the right of association. We also truly foster the rights for all people to have access to the basic human needs, that all of us need in our life, of food and water, of shelter of education of employment of healthcare of so many things that we should take as essential for everyone and work for that for everyone.

“We’re here to ensure the dignity of the work we do, and to also ensure the rights of the workers,” Bishop Rivituso said.

“I want to say on the behalf of all of us in Metropolitan St. Louis, thank you for your trades, thank you for your labors, thank you for your work, thank you for all you do to help lift up and make aware of the dignity of all workers, of truly assuring the rights of all those who truly labor in their lives and truly lift up all those by seek through their gifts and talents and their skills to make our community better.”


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