Worker Memorial Day event set for April 26

WORKER MEMORIAL — The annual Worker Memorial Day held by United Steelworkers Local 2911 at ArcelorMittal Weirton will be held April 26 at the memorial plaza at Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street. Looking at the roll of workers who lost their lives at the Weirton steel mill during more than a century of work are Mike Vitello, financial secretary and training coordinator for Local 2911, and Mark Glyptis, Local 2911 president. -- Paul Giannamore

WEIRTON — There were 118 fatalities at the steel mill in Weirton since Ernest Tener Weir founded it in 1909.

The names of those workers are commemorated annually during a ceremony held by United Steelworkers Local 2911 at what is now ArcelorMittal Weirton. This year’s reading of the roll call of those who lost their lives making steel in Weirton will be held at 9 a.m. on April 26 at the Steelworkers Memorial plaza at Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Gary Mohr, a corporate vice president for ArcelorMittal out of the Chicago headquarters, will be the keynote speaker for the memorial service. Mike Vitello, training coordinator and financial secretary of Local 2911, will serve as master of ceremonies. Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis will offer remarks, and ringing bells for the deceased will be Enid Williams and Diana Durst. The Rev. Robert Macek will offer the opening and closing prayers and will read the names of the deceased with fellow Steelworker Kenny Jacobs. There will be an American Legion honor guard and the playing of taps, along with music by bagpiper Stephen Murphy.

Vitello said the event will include representation from the former USW Local 1190 that served the Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. Mingo Junction and Steubenville plants. He said it’s vital to remember those lost, especially as working in the mill has skipped a generation or two as the economy fell on hard times. New workers are coming into the much smaller plant now.

“People definitely need to remember the significant sacrifices that were made to maintain this mill. They never will be forgotten,” Vitello said.

“That’s why we put up the memorial several years ago. It was long overdue, a memorial to remember those who sacrificed their lives to keep us in the course of employment.”

Worker Memorial Day is marked on April 28 nationally, to commemorate the date the act that established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was signed in 1971. The Weirton service is being moved to April 26 because the normal date falls on a weekend this year.

Vitello said ArcelorMittal will hold Health and Safety Day at its plants during the week. Following the Weirton ceremony, there will be vendor displays and health checkups planned at the Tin Mill.

There was a name added to the roll this year after research turned up of a worker who had died early in the mill’s history. The last fatality at the plant was railroader Marvin Clifton on Oct. 16, 1999.

Glyptis said safety is a top priority with ArcelorMittal and is the first topic at any meeting agenda. He said there is a motto, “Journey to Zero,” meaning no injuries at work.

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