Friday, September 24, 1999

Union chief urges study on workplace violence

Plan would honor those slain in '89 Louisville rampage

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A union official marked the 10-year anniversary of a shooting here at Standard Gravure that killed nine by calling on state officials to create a task force to study workplace violence.

        “We need to do something besides make plaques and ring bells and say people's names,” said Richard Street, president of Graphic Communications Union Local 619-M.

        He said a better memorial to victims would be to develop a plan to prevent workplace violence. He said he has lined up management and government supporters.

        Mr. Street spoke at a press conference Wednesday that was also attended by Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, state Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Carrie Donald, director of the University of Louisville Labor Management Center.

        The shooting occurred in September 1989, when disabled pressman Joseph Wesbecker killed eight co-workers and wounded 12 before killing himself. Mr. Wesbecker worked for the now-defunct company attached to the Louisville Courier-Journal building. He suffered from psychological problems at the time.

        Dr. Henry, who worked in a hospital emergency room when victims were brought in, said studies have been undertaken in the decade since the shooting. But “there really hasn't been any tremendous effort to change conditions that cause it.”

        Dr. Henry suggested the task force probably would have 24 members from the executive and legislative branch.

        A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report two years ago showed that homicide is the second-leading cause of death on the job, behind motor vehicle crashes.

        The agency reported that an average of 20 workers were being murdered each week, and that a million workers were injured by workplace violence each year.

        Jim Jenkins, Shively mayor and a former union president when the shooting occurred, also appeared at the press conference.

        “Nothing is going to undo that terrible day,” he said. But he said there should be a way to find meaningful solutions to workplace problems to honor those people.


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