About this fund

This site is the home of the Jon Kelley Wright Workers Memorial Fund. This is a project of the Center for Economic Research and Social Change and Haymarket Books to publish an annual series of books about the labor movement and other struggles of working people to change the world in honor of workers who have been killed on the job.

The fund gets its name from my uncle, Jon Kelley Wright, who was killed by the Chrysler Corporation on September 22nd, 2007. Kelley named me as the beneficiary on one of his modest life insurance policies. To turn some of my grief and anger into positive action, I decided to use the money to endow this fund and launch the Book Series.

I hope that the Jon Kelley Wright Workers’ Memorial Book Series will inspire others to dedicate their lives to the struggle for a world where safety on the job is more important than profits, and that it will help keep the memory of our beloved family and friends alive. We’re inviting anyone who has lost someone they love due to an unsafe workplace to memorialize that person through this fund. We'll publish a memorial page on this site, and print all of the names on the dedication page of each book in the series.

With love and solidarity,
-Derek Wright


You can give a tax-deductable donation to this project by making a check payable to “CERSC”, writing “Workers Memorial Fund” in the memo line, and sending it to:

P.O. Box 258082
Chicago, IL 60625

Book series

Books that have been published with the help of the fund:

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    The Labor Wars

    From the Molly Maguires to the Sit Downs
    By: Sidney Lens

    The rise of the American labor movement was characterized by bloody and revolutionary battles. From the first famous martyrs, the Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coal fields in the nineteenth century, to the crucial workers' victory of the 1930s in the sit-down strikes against General Motors, it has a history of pitched battles that frequently erupted into open warfare. The Labor Wars is now available from Haymarket Books. Read more.

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    The Lean Years

    A History of the American Worker, 1920-1933
    By: Irving Bernstein

    The textbook history of the 1920s is a story of Prohibition, flappers, and unbounded prosperity. For millions of industrial workers, however, the “roaring twenties” looked very different. Working-class communities were already in crisis in the years before the stock market crash of 1929. Strikes in the 1920s and attempts to organize the unemployed and fight evictions in the early 1930s often fell victim to police violence and repression. Here, Irving Bernstein recaptures the social history of the decade leading up to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s inauguration, uncovers its widespread inequality, and sheds light on the long-forgotten struggles that form the prelude to the great labor victories of the 1930s. The Lean Years is available from Haymarket Books. Read more.

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    The Turbulent Years

    A History of the American Worker, 1933–1941
    By: Irving Bernstein

    From the birth of the CIO to the sit-down strikes that helped to organize the auto industry, the 1930s have come to define the high point of labor militancy. In this groundbreaking work of labor history, Irving Bernstein uncovers a period when industrial trade unionism, working-class power, and socialism became rallying cries for millions of workers in the fields, mills, mines, and factories of America. The Turbulent Years is available from Haymarket Books Read more.


In honor and memory of the following people who were killed by an unsafe workplace:

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    Jon Kelley Wright

    Born: August 24, 1959
    Died: September 22, 2007
    Occupation: Auto part die cast operator
    Union: UAW Local 1166

    On September 22, 2007, the Chrysler Corporation murdered Jon Kelley Wright. After working over twenty-two years at the die casting plant in Kokomo, Indiana, he was crushed to death by the machine he operated in a gruesome but utterly preventable workspace disaster. Read more.

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    Francis J Couget

    Born: October 12, 1939
    Died: July 27, 2004
    Occupation: DSNY Auto Mechanic
    Union: SEIU Local 246

    Frank worked over thirty-one years keeping New York City clean. Shortly after retiring, he developed multiple myeloma, a painful incurable form of bone cancer. He believed it was caused by the carcinogens, asbestos, and unregulated waste sanitation workers like him are daily exposed to for all of their working lives. Read more.