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A mixture of blog posts from members.


Today I was accused of trafficking in drugs.  Today I was accused of being a junkie. Today I was drug tested, to prove I wasn’t a liar. Today I understood exactly why we have a heroin problem in this country.

“Don’t go there, it will mess you up, like mentally, it makes you feel ashamed to even be alive.” That was the quote I read on the support group/forum I’d Googled about Pain Clinics.  I’ve had chronic migraines since I was 7 along with a myriad of other health issues. However, it wasn’t until I ruptured a disc in the lower portion of my spine that I sought a special clinic at my neurosurgeon’s request. L3-L4 meant nothing to me. What mattered was I’d been careless. I’d lunged and grabbed the world’s fattest cat from the floor to give him his eye medication and just like that, my leg went excruciatingly numb.

Today I wondered if they would have cared more if my origin story had been better. Replace fat cat with pushed a nun out of traffic. Would they have treated me differently? More like a person?  What if they had known I was missing my great Aunt’s funeral right now, because I was warned to NEVER cancel a pain clinic appointment.  It looks suspicious. Not advice from the forum, but from the nurse at my surgeons office. I sat in the waiting room with my Mom. It was small, and very hot. I’d had an MRI yesterday and since I am severely allergic to the dye, they had pre-treated me with IV medications all day. I was still nauseous and flushed. I looked around the tiny room. Two women in their 50’s. A young, well dressed black man. A redneck who wouldn’t stop yelling at the TV, he was a big fan of the woman from Blind Spot. I went to a different Pain Clinic when I first hurt my back six months ago.  Hoping to forgo the stigma of pain medication I’d gotten an injection in my spine. It had only made matters worse. In January they did surgery, but the pain remained.

An hour past my appointment, they called my name.  In the entryway, next to the waiting room they took my weight. With the door hanging open, everyone could see. I was a big girl, luckily I’d let that type of embarrassment go in grade school. I was escorted to a room with my Mom.

Today I was given a survey. It had 0 questions about my pain.  This was an opioid survey.  Some of the questions were:

How often do you depend on others for opioid medication?

How often do you share your opioid medication?

Rather ridiculous questions to me since I was in such horrendous pain, I wouldn’t share the pain pills I had been given with a nun who had been hit by a bus.

A resident came in, or a PA, I’m not sure to be honest.  She was very young, not the magical doctor my surgeon had referred me to, she was only here to gather information. I began my six month tale of woe. She stumbled over my timeline; I tried to straighten it out. I wondered why it was so hard to keep a chart. I suddenly remembered my chart from my pediatrician, long before computers. It was two inches thick and worn with age (I was sick a lot) but it had my story in it.

Today I wondered what happened to my story.  Why was it ok for the computer to freeze, for the woman to say “I think I understand, that’s good enough.” And leave to “brief” the doctor.  What on earth was she going to brief her on? We had never seemed to be on the same page.

Finally the Dr. arrived. She should have been a dentist, she had perfect teeth. I think I might have had faith in her as a dentist.  We again attempted to sort this past six months out. She said the radiologist report from yesterday did not note another disc herniation.  But she wasn’t a surgeon, and I trusted him more than radiologists. The timeline, the injection, the surgery, and yes they had given me oxycodone. Did I think that dosage was high? Did I think I should have it in the first place? Yes, I suppose. I was in pain, my Dad has been sick again. The pills allowed me to sit in ER’s and surgical suites with him.  It allowed me to go to Wal-Mart with my Mom. It seemed necessary to me. She looked at me like that was a foolish answer.  

Today I wondered if needing to be there for my parents, and wanting to leave my house was a foolish reason to be at this Clinic.

She was all over the map. We need to see what the surgeon says. Perhaps my fibromyalgia was to blame for this pain (but there had been a disc, how could it be the fibro?) You might benefit from a spinal cord stimulation implant; I can give you a DVD all about it!  We can’t really do anything until we hear from your surgeon. I will refill your pain medication. Have you ever thought of going to group therapy for your pain?

Today I realized I can listen to a woman talk and visualize smashing her head into a wall.

My time was done, and so you’d think, was my tale. But it isn’t the end. I was shuffled back to the busy entryway, next to the scale. They took a picture of my frustrated, confused, weary face for their “database.”

Today I imagined turning that database into an art exhibit entitled: Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.

I had to sign contracts. I wouldn’t sell the drugs, I wouldn’t lose the drugs, I wouldn’t share the drugs. I would take them exactly as prescribed.  Another contract, no I’m not pregnant, no I won’t drink alcohol, yes I will tell someone if my mental status changes. Sign and initial below that I understand this Dr. may stop treating me at her sole discretion if they believe I broke this contract.

Today I understood how Faust must have felt. I had surely just signed my soul away. Because it certainly didn’t feel like I’d entered into an agreement with someone intending to help me.

I was on my way out when they hesitated in handing me my prescription. “Did we make you pee for us?” I hesitated, “No.” The sweet nurse who had been kind enough not to announce my weight at the beginning came to escort me to the bathroom. I was dreading this part, only because with my back hurting as it was, twisting and getting the urine in a cup can be difficult. The nurse offered me a small bucket to put in the toilet to catch my sample so I didn’t have to struggle. I almost started to cry. Only because this small act felt like the kindest thing anyone in the office had done for me since I got there. We walked to the bathroom, only this office didn’t have a bathroom. I had to walk into the main hospital, past the same day surgery waiting room, past the elevators, and produce my drug test urine sample in the public bathroom. I was bewildered. I wondered what everyone passing me thought. Finally I passed the test and was given my things and could go.

Today I realized people have everything so backwards. I am educated; I know there is a drug problem in this country. I read the stories, I get it. But holding the addiction, essentially the ACTIONS, of another person against me is WRONG. How is that different than taking away someone’s license because another person drives drunk.  Today I had to prove I wasn’t a criminal before I could request help. In what other case would that be ok?  The Dr. had all the power, and I was at her mercy.

Waiting for the elevator, my mother’s eyes were saucers. “I can’t believe everything that just happened today.”

I was feeling a range of emotions. Anger, weariness, embarrassment, somehow violated and INCREDIBLY unsafe. I never wanted to come back to this clinic. I didn’t even want to come back to this hospital for my appointment with the surgeon next week.

Without thinking I held the scripts up and said, “I think they just showed me first hand why people turn to heroin on street corners instead of seeking out doctors.” I didn’t realize the well dressed black man from the waiting room had walked up behind me. His voice caught me off guard.

“Yep, that’s what they do to you here.”

We rode the elevator down together. He wished me luck and told me to have a blessed day.

I was too tired and in too much pain to go to my Aunts wake. I sent my mother on without me.

Today was a nightmare. Today was a day I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Today was unacceptable.

Do better.


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Pain Helped Him Pull The Trigger

Bob Mason and his dog Sophie.

When Bob Mason decided to end his life with a self-inflicted gunshot, his pain helped him pull the trigger.

Mason died in January. He was 67 years old. His daughter, Shane Mieski, says her father had been without pain-killing drugs for about a week when he died.

"For the last couple weeks up until Bob passed away, there were a lot of tears everyday on the phone," Mieski said, "between the pain and really just the sadness of not being able to walk his dog, which, I’m sure it was more than that. There would be tears, then he would joke," she said, "then he’d call back an hour later and be teary and in pain again.”

One of Mason’s doctors was Mark Ibsen in Helena. Ibsen shut his practice last winter, after being investigated by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners forover-prescribing the powerful and addictive painkillers known as opioids.

That meant Bob Mason lost his access to the painkillers he needed to make his life bearable. Mieski says she remembers her dad talking about seeing another doctor in Butte to get relief. But he was in too much pain to make the trip from his home in Helena.

“An hour down and an hour back, it was too painful," Mieski said. "He would wince every time he sat down, and cringe, and I swear I could hear his back creaking every time he stood up.”

In March a group of chronic pain patients in Montana presented what they call a "pain patient's bill of rights" to the state legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. Terri Anderson from Hamilton was one of them.

“On behalf of all those who suffer pain, and Robert Mason, who took his own life because of uncontrolled pain," Anderson said to the committee. "We are a diverse group of patients," she said. "We come from all walks of life, and we believe the treatment of our chronic intractable pain is a fundamental human right.”

Anderson says the pain patient's bill of rights is based on similar legislation in California. Lawmakers there found that the state has a right and duty to control the illegal use of opioid drugs. They also found that for some patients, inadequate treatment of acute and chronic pain is a significant health problem.

California’s pain patient’s bill of rights allows a patient to request or reject the use of any or all techniques in order to relieve their pain.


According to The Montana Medical Association, prescription drugs contributed to more than 300 deaths in Montana between 2011 and 2013. The Association says kids in Montana have the third highest prescription drug abuse rate in the country.

"The pendulum has swung, and the legitimate pain patients cannot get their medications. Especially in Montana."

“Opioids were given out like jelly beans," Pain Patient Advocate Terri Anderson acknowledges. "People did become addicted, and [there were] too many deaths from these prescribing habits. But the pendulum has swung, and the legitimate pain patients cannot get their medications. Especially in Montana."

California’s first version of the pain patient's bill of rights became law in 1997.

Los Angeles area doctor Forest Tennant advocated for it. He now treats patients who come from states all over the country - including Montana - who can’t find effective pain treatment at home.

“The last week or two has just been unbearable," he said. "We hardly want to take the phones, [because of] the number of people calling that want to come here."

Dr. Forest Tennant treats pain patients from all over the country at his practice in West Covina, CA.

"A lot of it is, doctors in other states don’t want to treat anybody," Tennant says.

"We’ve been at this since World War II, when we had a lot of sailors and soldiers settle here. And so, in California, believe it or not, we have the lowest per-capita prescribing of schedule-2 opioids. That’s because we’ve been at training and programs for decades.”

To an untrained doctor, Tennant says, addicts and pain patients can look similar. He says education in the medical community about pain management and opioids is almost nonexistent.

“Here is the thing the public doesn’t get," he says. "The government doesn’t get it, the universities don't get it, and I don’t know why this is so hard to understand.

"The CDC has got these guidelines. All they do is reiterate what is standard care anyway," Tennant says. "In other words, you have standard care. That’s non-pharmacological medication, physical therapy, injections, surgery, topical medications, psychotherapy - and all of those things have to be tried before a patient can come here. Opioids are not an option; they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don’t use them until everything else has failed. Big myth. Big misunderstanding.”

"Opioids are not an option, they are the last resort when there is no other option. You don't use them until everything else has failed."

Doctor Marc Mentel chairs a Montana Medical Association committee on prescription drug abuse.

“I know nationally there is a big move to regulate these medicines, and have tighter regulations, and right now legislation is being considered," Metel says. "A lot of us are proposing [that] education is really what we need to do. The opioid problem is a big problem in the U.S. and we have to face it and take it head-on. But at the same point in time, as we take that on, we don’t want to throw out patients who also suffer from chronic pain and may benefit from these medicines. And some of them leave with actually better quality of life with them being available.”

Mentel testified at the Montana legislative committee hearing on the pain patient's bill of rights in March.

“Right now the exact means and ability to know what is the best way to manage chronic pain, what are the tools available, what is available out there? We are still developing the science," Mentel told the committee.

"A pain patient's bill of rights - although I agree with everything that is on there that they are talking about today, I agree with them wholeheartedly, it is actually in my oath I took as a physician to treat everyone as if I would want to be treated myself. I’m just fearful that a bill of rights, or some mandates for physicians to practice in a certain way, could get legislation ahead of the science.”

Mary Caferro (D) SD41.

“What I think is important is that we have the discussion," says state Senator Mary Caferro, "and if I as a legislator can in anyway assist with that, I’m going to do it.”

The Helena Democrat says she’ll put in a bill draft request for the 2017 legislative session, but she isn’t sure yet if she’ll be a formal sponsor for a pain patient's bill of rights.

“Drug addiction is a problem, it is a very serious problem," Caferro says. "What I don’t want to see happen, and what has been identified as a problem, is that people who really need access to medication get swept up in the drug addiction. They are two separate issues. You have drug addiction, and you have people who need medicine for their pain management. Those are two separate issues.”

Bob Mason, the pain patient from Helena who committed suicide, moved to Montana to try to get relief in 2012. He got a spinal cord stimulator implant, but afterwards, still needed opioids.

His daughter, Shane Mieski, said he didn’t like the drugs, but there were no other options.

“The opioids, they cause other issues," Mieski says. "Your body starts to feel slow and a little overwhelmed, as he would mention. You don’t feel super sharp and on top of your game. At a certain point, there was nothing more that doctors could do for his type of pain. So, as a 67-year-old person, I think that you should try to enjoy any quality of life you get. And if that means taking medication to function, give them what they need.”

Opium-derived drugs are a two-headed beast. One clenches its jaws around addicts, whose lives it can crush. The other offers relief that can make life worth living, at least for long enough to allow a man like Bob Mason to feel like he can walk his dog.

The American Academy of Pain Medicine says a hundred million Americans suffer with chronic pain. That’s more than the number of people with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Read the first part of this series on pain patients' access to opioid painkillers in Montana.

This story was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Montana Health Care Foundation.


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Retirement Planner: Recent Social Security Claiming Changes

What do the Recent Social Security Claiming Changes Mean for Me?

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-74; November 2, 2015), made some changes to Social Security’s laws about claiming retirement and spousal benefits. Section 831 of the law (entitled “Closure of Unintended Loopholes”) made several changes to the Social Security Act and closed two complex loopholes that were used primarily by married couples. This fact sheet explains what is changing and how it might affect you.

Determining when to start your Social Security benefits is a complex and personal decision. We encourage you to research your options before you apply for benefits. You may also contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) to speak with a representative about your retirement options.

Timing of Multiple Benefits (also called “Deemed Filing”)

What was the loophole? The law provides incentives to delay claiming retirement benefits: monthly benefits grow larger for each month you delay receiving retirement benefits between full retirement age (currently 66) and 70. The loophole allowed some married individuals to start receiving spousal benefits at full retirement age, while letting their own retirement benefit grow by delaying it.

How is the law changing? Under existing law, if you are eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse (or divorced spouse) in the first month you want your benefits to begin and are not yet full retirement age, you must apply for both benefits. You will receive the higher of the two benefits. This requirement is called “deemed filing” because when you apply for one benefit you are “deemed” to have also applied for the other.

Under the new law deemed filing is extended to apply to those at full retirement age and beyond. In addition, deemed filing may occur in any month after becoming entitled to retirement benefits. For example, if you begin receiving your retirement benefit and only later become eligible for a spousal benefit (or vice versa), you will be “deemed” to have applied for the second benefit as soon as you are eligible for it. Your monthly payment will be the higher of the two benefit amounts.

What is the rationale for this change? Historically, spousal benefits were designed to be paid only to the extent they exceeded any benefit the spouse earned based on his or her own work record. This change in the law preserves the fairness of the incentives to delay, but it means that you cannot receive one type of benefit while at the same time earning a bonus for delaying the other benefit.

Who will be affected? If you turn 62 on or after January 2, 2016, and will be eligible for benefits both as a retired worker and as a spouse (or divorced spouse), then the new law applies to you. Deemed filing applies to retirement benefits, not to survivor’s benefits. So, if you are a widow or widower, you may start your survivor benefit independently of your retirement benefit if you restrict the scope of your application. There are also some exceptions to deemed filing. For example, deemed filing does not apply if you receive spouse's benefits and are also entitled to disability, or if you are receiving spousal benefits because you are caring for the retired worker’s child. If you have questions about your specific situation, contact Social Security.

How and when is Social Security implementing this change? We have already implemented this change with specific instructions to our field office employees because the law applies to those who attain age 62 on January 2, 2016 or later. We are continuing to update our website and materials.

Example 1: Maria turns age 62 after January 1, 2016 and her husband, Joe, is 65. They have each worked enough years to earn a retirement benefit. In March of 2020, Maria has reached her full retirement age and files for benefits. Maria is eligible for a spousal benefit on Joe’s record. Maria must file for both benefits. She can no longer file only for the spousal benefit and delay filing for her own retirement. She will receive a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount.
Example 2: Jennie is a 62-year-old widow. She is eligible for retirement benefits based on her work history, and she is also eligible for survivor benefits based on her deceased husband’s record. She starts her survivor benefit this year, restricts the scope of her application to widow’s benefits, and does not start her own retirement benefit, allowing it to grow. At age 70, she starts her own increased retirement benefit, which she will receive for the rest of her life. The new law does not affect her because deemed filing does not apply to widow(er)s. Jennie will receive the higher of the two benefits.

Voluntary Suspension of Benefits (also called “File and Suspend”)

What was the loophole? As described above, retirement benefits grow for each month you delay claiming, between full retirement age (currently 66) and 70. A loophole allowed a worker at full retirement age or older to apply for retirement benefits and then voluntarily suspend payment of those retirement benefits, which allowed a spousal benefit to be paid to his or her spouse while the worker was not collecting retirement benefits. The worker would then restart his or her retirement benefits later, for example at age 70, with an increase for every month retirement benefits were suspended.

How is the law changing? Under the new law, you can still voluntarily suspend benefit payments at your full retirement age (currently 66) in order to earn higher benefits for delaying. But during a voluntary suspension, other benefits payable on your record, such as benefits to your spouse, are also suspended. And, if you have suspended your benefits, you cannot continue receiving other benefits (such as spousal benefits) on another person’s record.

There are some exceptions. If you are a divorced spouse, you can continue receiving a divorced spousal benefit even if your ex-spouse voluntarily suspends his or her retirement benefit.

What is the rationale for this change? There is less rationale for paying dependents if the primary worker has not retired or is not receiving payment from Social Security. It also preserves the fairness of the incentives to delay, so that couples cannot simultaneously receive a benefit and get a bonus for delaying.

Who will be affected? The new law applies to individuals who request a suspension on or after April 30, 2016, which is 180 days after the new law was enacted. Remember, you must have reached your full retirement age (currently 66) in order to request a suspension.

In some situations, we will honor requests received before April 30, 2016, that we are unable to process until after April 30, 2016. For example, there could be a situation where you are already full retirement age, and you contact us to apply for benefits before April 30, 2016, expressing your intent to apply for, and suspend, your benefits. If we cannot take your application until June 2016, we will honor the request for voluntary suspension that we received before April 30, 2016.

If you voluntarily suspended benefits prior to April 30, 2016, you may remain in voluntary suspense status, and the new law will not affect you. Also, if you submit your request before April 30, 2016 and your spouse or children become entitled to benefits either before or after that date, they will not be affected by the new rules and will continue to receive payment.

How and when is Social Security implementing this change? We have developed instructions for our field office employees so they can answer questions before this change takes effect for suspension requests that are submitted on or after April 30, 2016.

Example: Thomas will turn 66 in 2016, and Maria will turn 62. Thomas starts his retirement benefit at his full retirement age, 66, in June 2016, and Maria starts her spousal benefit based on his record. Thomas immediately suspends his benefit. In past years, that would have meant that Maria could continue receiving spousal benefits while Thomas could restart his own benefit at age 70 and receive an increase for each month he waited. Now, because Thomas reached his full retirement age and requested the suspension after April 30, 2016, he is subject to the new law. He can still choose to voluntarily suspend his benefit after his full retirement age, but if he does suspend his benefits, Maria’s spousal benefit will also be suspended.

For more information about these changes, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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Workers' Memorial Week Events 2016

Events listed alphabetically by state.


Los Angeles, California: Various times and locations. Events sponsored by SoCalCOSH.

April 25, 5pm. Screening of "A Day's Work." UCLA James West Alumni Center.

April 27, Time and location TBA. Rally in Support of Permanent Overtime Pay for the Domestic Workers Alliance and CSUDH 8th Annual Labor, Social and Economic Justice Fair, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson.

April 28, 10am-11:30am. Workers Memorial Day Rally and Press Conference.

May 1, noon. May Day Health and Safety contingent at May Day March, Olympic & Figueroa.

Oakland, California: April 28, 4:30pm. Lake Merritt/Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

"Reclaim Labor, Reclaim Lives." Join Worksafe, Centro Legal de la Raza, and Street Level Health Project/Oakland Workers' Collective for an evening of remembrance. At 4:30, meet at the Lake Merritt Ampitheatre, located between 12th Street and 1st Avenue on Lake Merritt Boulevard, and march to City Hall (1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza) for a 5:30pm rally. Flyers in English and Spanish.

Los Angeles, California. April 25, 5pm. UCLA James West Alumni Center, 325 Westwood Plaza.

UCLA LOSH presents the Los Angeles premiere of the award-winning documentary "A Day's Work." This free screening will be followed by a panel of local experts who can answer your questions about what temporary worker issues look like in Southern California and how you can get involved.

San Francisco, California. April 28, 7pm. ILWU Local 34, 801 2nd Street.

The Injured Workers National Network hosts. Speakers include Brenda Barros of SEIU 1021, Dr. Larry Rose (Past Medical Director of CAL-OSHA), Daryle Washington of IBT 350, and Daniel Berman (author of "Death on the Job."

Ukiah, California: April 28, 5:30pm. Clubhouse, 107 S. Oak Street.

Honoring workers from Mendocino County who have been killed or injured on the job.

Hartford, Connecticut. April 28, 5pm. State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue. 

Following the ceremony at the Capitol, wreathes will be laid at the Workers Memorial in Bushnell Park. Sponsored by the Connecticut AFL-CIO and the Health & Safety Committee.

Lake Park, Florida. April 28, 6pm-8:30pm. The Kelsey Theater, 700 Park Avenue.

The ceremony will include Presentation of Colors by the Palm Beach County Firefighters Pipes & Drums and Honor Guard, Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem by Young Singers of the Palm Beaches, Invocation and Prayer for the Fallen, Special Guest Speakers including State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Vergie Bain (OSHA), County Commissioner Shelley Vana and more. This event is free to all who attend. Appetizer buffet and cash bar. Sponsored by the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO. 

Miami, Florida. April 28, 11:45am. Port Miami-Seamen's Center, 1015 N. America Way.

RSVP for event.

Temple Terrace, Florida. April 28, 3pm. Council Chambers, 11250 N. 56th Street.

Join the USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Programs and USF OSHA Training Institute Education Center as we honor those workers, acknowledge their suffering families and recognize affected communities.

Bloomington, Illinois. April 28, 6am. Law and Justice Center, 104 E. Front Street.

This year’s commemoration is dedicated to John Hoeniges, a McLean County employee, who perished in a fall on May 26, 2015. Besides honoring Hoeniges, names of over 200 local workers who have lost their lives on the job will be read.

Decatur, Illinois: April 28, 5:30pm. Northwest corner of the Macon County Courthouse lawn, 253 W. Wood St.

Decatur Trades and Labor Assembly Workers’ Memorial Day Service.

Peoria, Illinois. April 28, 5pm. Peoria Labor Temple, 400 NE Jefferson Avenue.

The Labor Council of West Central Illinois hosts a march to the Workers' Memorial Monument at City Hall. For more info, email

Rockford, Illinois: April 28, 5pm. E.J. ‘Zeke’ Giorgi Building, 200 South Wyman Street.

The Rockford United Labor Workers’ Memorial Day Ceremony.

Springfield, Illinois. April 28, 5:30pm. Illinois State Library Atrium, 200 S. 2nd Street.

Commemoration hosted by the Springfield & Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council.

Lafayette, Indiana. April 28, 4:515pm-6:15pm.  Plumbers & Steamftters Union Hall 2555 South 30th Street.

Candlelight Vigil.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: April 28, 5:30pm. IBEW 405 Hall, 1211 Wiley Blvd SW.

Hawkeye Labor Council hosts this observance.

Clinton, Iowa. April 28, 1pm. Clinton River Front, 130 3rd Avenue South.

The Clinton Labor Congress will have a memorial ceremony open to the public.

Iowa City, Iowa. April 26, 2016, 7:00pm-9:00pm. University of Iowa, Callaghan Auditorium, College of Public Health Building,145 North Riverside Drive.

Screening of "A Day's Work," followed by discussion. Sponsored by the University of Iowa, the Heartland Center for Occupational Health & Safety, and

Waterloo, Iowa. April 28, 5:30pm. Black Hawk Labor Temple, 1695 Burton Avenue.

The Black Hawk Union Council will have a short program with speakers and a light meal. For more info, email

Cumberland, Maryland: April 28, noon. City Hall Plaza, 57 N. Liberty Street.

 Observance with speakers.

Boston, Massachusetts. April 28, Noon-1:15pm. In front of State House, 24 Beacon Street.

Commemoration. We encourage families to bring enlarged photos of your loved one orsend a photo to MassCOSH and they will enlarge it. Sponsored by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and Greater Boston Labor Council. For rain location, please call 617-825-7233 x14.

Duluth, Minnesota: April 25, 7am. Wellstone Hall -- Duluth Labor Temple, 2002 London Road.

The annual AFL-CIO Worker's Memorial pancake breakfast will be served from 7-9am with welcoming statements by the City of Duluth Mayor and Central Labor Body President t 8:30am. At 9:15am a tree planting ceremony will take place outside on the grounds of the Duluth AFL-CIO Labor Temple.

St. Cloud, Minnesota. April 28, 11am. 4150 2nd Street South.

The Greater Minnesota Worker Center hosts a commemoration/press event.

St. Paul, Minnesota. April 28, 1pm. Workers Memorial Garden, Capitol grounds, 12th and Cedar Street.

Minnesota Building and Construction Trades hosts a commemoration.

St. Louis, Missouri. May 1, 2016, 9:00 am. Shrine of St. Joseph, 1220 N. 11th Street.

Commemoration sponsored by St. Louis Labor Council.

Lincoln, Nebraska: April 28, 7pm. State Capitol, 1445 K Street.

7th Annual Candlelight Vigil sponsored by United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF). There will also be a Nebraska's 5th Annual Safety Training, April 28-29, 9am-3pm, at Country Inn & Suites, at the Airport Exit off of I-90.

Concord, New Hampshire: April 28, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Red River Theatre, 11 South Main Street.

 Screening of film "A Day's Work," followed by a panel discussion following featuring the film maker, temp workers, and worker advocates. Event co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, New Hampshire AFL-CIO, BDB Health Promotions, UNH Occupational Health Surveillance Program.

Hookset, New Hampshire: April 26, 5:50 pm - 8:30 pm. Plumbers & Steamfitters Hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike.

Annual Dinner and Memorial Presentation. co-sponsored by the New Hampshire Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.  Buffet Dinner and Speakers. We add the names of workers killed in 2015 to our memorial plaque.

New Brunswick, New Jersey. April 24, 2016, 3pm. Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, 222 Livingston Avenue.

NJ Work Environment Council and New Labor Rally and March.

Amherst, New York. May 10. UAW Region #9, 35 George Karl Boulevard.

WNYCOSH hosts a screening of "A Day's Work" at the Buffalo Central Labor Council monthly meeting.

Binghamton, New York. April 29, 6pm-8pm. Bundy Museum of History and Art, 129 Main Street.

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized state-wide screenings of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work." This screening is co-sponsored by the Broome Tioga Green Party, People's Press, Student-Labor Alliance, and the Workers Center of the Southern Tier. The museum's film series in commemoration of Workers' Memorial Day continues on May 12, 6pm, with the film "Who Needs Sleep," about the sweatshop hours worked by film crews.

There will also be an observance hosted by the Central New York Labor Federation on April 30 at noon, at the Binghamton Factory Fire Commemorative Plaque (on Wall Street, near the Martin Luther King statue on the River Trail.)

Ithaca, New York. May 1, 4:30pm-6:30pm. Cinemapolis, 120 E. Green Street. 

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized state-wide screenings of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work."This screening is co-sponsored by the Tompkins County Workers Center and Midstate COSH. Suggested donation of $10 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Massena, New York. April 30, 11am-1pm. Massena Central High School, 84 Nightengale Avenue.

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized s tate-wide screenings of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work."  This screening is co-sponsored by the Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence Counties Central Trades and Labor Council, PEF Region 7, People Project, and Workforce Development Institute.

New York, New York. April 28, 11:30am. 46th Street and 8th Avenue.

Join NYCOSH, the Central Labor Council, and other labor partners as we commemoratethose we have lost and work to create safer working conditions. We'll meet at the location a worker, Christian Ginesi, died in a preventable construction incident last May.

Plattsburgh, New York. May 4, Time and location TBA.

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized state-wide screenings of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work." This screening is co-sponsored by the Northeast Central Trades and Labor Council, PEF Region 7, and the Workforce Development Institute.

Potsdam, New York. May 5, 4pm - 6pm. SUNY Potsdam, 104 Kellas Hall, 44 Pierrepont Avenue.

In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized state-wide screenings of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work." This screening is co-sponsored by PEF Region 7, SUNY Potsdam Department of Sociology, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton.

Rochester, New York: April 28, 5:00pm. Highland Park Workers Memorial Monument, 180 Reservoir Avenue.

Observance hosted by the Rochester and Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation.

In addition, there will be a May 2nd screening of "A Day's Work," co-sponsored by the Occupational Health Clinical Centers, and People Organizing for Worker Empowerment and Respect. Time and location TBA.

Syracuse, New York. April 29, 8am-10am. Pensabene's Casa Grande, 135 State Fair Boulevard.

Unity Breakfast. Ticket information here. Flyer is here. Co-sponsored by Central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, Greater Syracuse Labor Council, Occupational Health Clinical Centers, Workers' Center of CNY, Greater Syracuse County Occupational Safety & Health, Workforce Development Institute (WDI).

In addition, on May 3 at 6pm, In honor of Workers' Memorial Day and May Day, the Occupational Health Clinical Centers has organized a screening of the award-winning documentary film "A Day's Work" at the NYSUT Office, 4983 Brittonfield Parkway.  This screening is co-sponsored by the Central New York Area Labor Federation.

Akron, Ohio. April 28, 11am. Outside ICWU Workers Memorial area, 1655 W. Macket Street.

Event will include presentation of Colors by color guard, National Anthem, invocation, various speakers, placing of wreath, taps, rifle salute, moment of silence, benefiction.

Canton, Ohio. April 28, 2016, 10:00am. Hall of Fame Central Labor Council, 1329 Market Avenue North.

Workers' Memorial Day event.

Cincinnati, Ohio. April 28, 5:30pm. UAW Local 547 Union Hall, 10020 Reading Road.

Cincinnati AFL-CIO and United Auto Workers (UAW) are co-sponsoring the 11th Annual Workers' Memorial Day Ceremony. Including regional speakers and a cookout. For more info, email

Columbus, Ohio. New Memorial Park, May 21, 2016. 25 Marcon Boulevard. 

Honoring Worker Memorial Day. A joint effort of the Columbus-Franklin County AFL-CIO, the Buckeye Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the City of Columbus, Workers Memorial honors Franklin County workers who have died on the job since 1992.

Lima, Ohio. April 26, 6:30pm. Rose Marie Duffy Lodge, 1870 Robb Avenue.

Dinner program with speakers. For more info, email

Newark, Ohio. April 28, 6:30pm. Licking-Knox CLC/GMP Union Hall, 350 Hudson Avenue.

RSVP for commemoration.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: April 28, 7:00pm-8:00pm. Floor Rotunda, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln.

Candlelight Vigil sponsored by Oklahoma AFL-CIO.  On April 1, 8am-5pm, the Oklahoma Safety Council and ASSE Oklahoma City is having a volunteer day to make wooden silhouettes of the fallen to be displayed on April 28 

Portland, Oregon. April 25, 7pm. IBEW Union Hall, 15937 NE Airport Way.

The Northwest Oregon Labor Council hosts a commemoration

Salem, Oregon. April 28, noon. Oregon State Capitol Mall, outside the Labor and Industry Building, 350 Winter Street, NE.

Commemoration hosted by Oregon AFL-CIO.

Coatesville, Pennsylvania. April 28, 8:00am. Steelworkers Memorial Iron and Steel Museum• 50 South 1st Avenue.

Ceremony includes steel beam recovered at the World Trade Center.

Erie, Pennsylvania: April 28, 6pm - 7pm. Erie City Council Chambers, City Hall, 626 State St, Room 400.

Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO 30th Annual Workers’ Memorial Service. Prayer service, speaker program, reading of names and placing of memorial wreath at the Workers’ Monument in Perry Square.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. April 28, 8am - 10am. Passage to India Restaurant, 525 S. Front Street.

Harrisburg Region Central Labor Council Workers’ Memorial Day Breakfast and Memorial Observance. Observance held at the Monument in Labor's Grove, a short distance from the restaurant.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. April 29, 8:30am. Sheet Metal Workers Hall, 1301 S. Columbus Blvd.

PHILAPOSH will have a breakfast program. A reading of names of those who died from work-related injuries and illnesses in the Tri-State area in 2016 will take place followed by a casting of flowers into the Delaware river, reaffirming our commitment to prevent injury, illness and death on the job. Accompanied by Brian Wydlitz on the bagpipes, playing "Amazing Grace." Participants should register and pay for breakfast.

Reading, Pennsylvania. April 30, noon. Heritage Park, 6th and Canal Streets.

Join the United Labor Council of Reading Berks for a lineup of local speakers and light refreshments.Bring your own chair.

Providence, Rhode Island. April 27, 3pm-5:30pm. Occupational and Environmental Health Center, 410 South Main Street, 3rd Floor.

Program on OSHA's Construction Confined Space Rule. Pre-registration is requested. Sponsored by Rhode Island Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.

Knoxville, Tennessee. April 30, 2016, noon. Knoxville-Oak Ridge Area Central Labor Council, 1522 Bill Williams Ave.

Observance and release of Knox Area Workers' Memorial Day Committee Workers Memorial Day report. Co-sponsored by the Central Labor Council, Jobs with Justice of East Tennessee, and the Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee. Email for more information. 

Nashville, Tennessee. April 28, 7pm. UAW 737 Hall, 6207 Centennial Boulevard.

The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee hosts thiscommemoration.

Corpus Christi, Texas. April 28, noon. IBEW Local Union 278, 2301 Saratoga.

A BBQ Sandwich Lunch to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe jobs. Guest Speakers will be Marianne McGee, OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist; Travis Clark, OSH AREA Director; and Becky Moeller, Retired Texas AFL-CIO President. Hosted by the Coastal Bend Labor Council.

Houston, Texas. April 28, 6pm. Various locations.

USW Local 6000 hosts a commemoration at the IBEW Local Union 716, 1475 North Loop West, Suite 400.

Fe y Justicia hosts a vigil. Email for more information.

Bellingham, Washington: April 28, noon. Bellingham Library lawn, 210 Central Ave.

Observance sponsored by Northwest Washington CLC.

Seattle, Washington. April 27, 11:30am, Lyceum Room, Husky Union Building, University of Washington. 

 Memorial sponsored by Martin Luther King County Labor Council. 

Morgantown, West Virginia. April 28, 6pm. Public Safety Building, 200 Spruce Street.

Commemoration sponsored by the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Menomonie, Wisconsin. April 28, 4:30pm. Dean and Sue Bar and Grill, 2002 Midway Road.

The Greater West Central Labor Council (Wisconsin) is hosting a Workers Memorial Day event. A free supper will be provided from 4:30-6:30 followed by a program from 6:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Please bring a dessert to pass. For more info, email

Milwaukee, Wisconsin. April 28, 5pm. Carl F. Zeidler Union Square.

Join WisCOSH to commemorate lives lost in the last year.

Rhinelander, Wisconsin. April 30, 11:00am. Pioneer Park, Kemp Street and Oneida Avenue.

The memorial rock nests in the pines on the right upon entering the Park. All workers and their families are invited to the tribute to those who have given their lives to earn a living. Keynote Speaker: Father Dean Einerson, Saint Augustine's Church.

Jackson, Wyoming. April 29, 10am. Town Council Chambers, 150 E. Pearl Avenue.

Join WYCOSH and allies for this commemoration.





PLEASE also join our workers' memorial day group to add events and stories -

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What Is Mental Health?

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Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Learn more about specific mental health problems and where to find help.

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Learn More About Mental Health



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