2 members honored at Workers Memorial Day ceremony in St. Paul

Two members of Local 49 who died on the job were among those remembered at a Workers Memorial Day ceremony outside the Minnesota State Capitol Friday, April 28.

Member Terry Westemeier, 55, died March 5, 2022, and member Brad Wojtysiak, 40, died Sept. 14, 2022. Five other fallen workers were also honored.

Each worker was remembered with a white cross. Brent Westemeier held the cross in honor of his father, Terry, and Ed Wojtysiak held the cross in honor of his son Brad.

Gov. Tim Walz, who attended the event, paid tribute to the fallen and said we must do more to ensure safety on the job.

“It’s probably fitting that it’s rainy, a little bit cold,” Walz said. “These are the conditions folks go to work in every day. It doesn’t stop us from doing the work that has to happen. But we have to have an expectation that no family member should have to stand here. After a day of work, an expectation that a spouse is coming home, that a parent’s coming home, that a brother or sister is going to come home, is an expectation that we should have zero tolerance for anything but that.”

Minnesota Building Trades President Dan McConnell also emphasized the need for a continued focus on worker safety.

“The seven brothers we honor today is too many, and our work is far from done,” he said.

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach and Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bernie Burnham also spoke at the event.

At the end of the ceremony, a bell was struck as the name of each of the seven fallen workers was read aloud and a black cloth was draped around each cross.