Call for Further Workplace Training and Safety Protections
Build Up New York City activists urged the city to suspend the license of a contractor for an accident at a Queens construction project where six workers were injured a month ago.
Elected officials, including New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris and community groups, joined BUNYC at an afternoon press conference to call attention to a recent spate of construction accidents, especially in Queens.
“Standing in the shadow of incredible luxury developments, we are here today because a month ago, almost to the day, six workers in this building were sent to the hospital after suffering injuries,” Dan Walcott, a representative of BUNYC, said. “They were on the 8th floor and they plunged to the 7th floor when the deck where they were pouring concrete gave way.”
Walcott commended the city for taking the right action when it suspended the license of a contractor on whose Astoria project three workers were sent to the hospital after they became trapped as the upper portion of a house under construction collapsed, causing the roof to fall in on them.
The city did issue an immediate Stop-Work-Order after the LIC accident because the Rabsky Group’s contractor, Galaxy Developers LLC, was doing unapproved construction work. The Stop-Work-Order stated that the “work does not conform to approved construction documents and/or approved amendments.” But the city has not moved to suspend Galaxy’s license and it has since downgraded its action in the accident to a partial Stop-Work-Order.
“We call on New York City to suspend the license of Galaxy Developers LLC, pending an independent review by a structural engineer of all the work Galaxy Developers has done so far on the project,” Walcott said. “Going forward, the developer must show proof that they are providing sufficient training and equipment for all employees to work safely.”
Ivan Medina, 22, an Ironworker, says workers like him are at the mercy of employers who tend to exploit them.
“Thinking about the people who got hurt here and in Astoria makes my heart skip a beat because I know that could very well have been me,” Medina said. “Most of the time, my employers are low-road contractors who don’t pay good wages or benefits. It also means that they don’t follow strict safety standards on the job.”
Walcott pointed out that the 18-story project at 42-20 27th Street in Queens is part of the unbridled development overtaking the Long Island City neighborhood, a trend that neighbors of the new developments find alarming. Most blocks in the neighborhood have new luxury developments going up that are largely unaffordable to current residents.
This as-of-right growth, besides widening the wealth gap in the City, is also putting a lot of stress on our schools and transportation infrastructure and pushing out long-term residents, including our vibrant arts community, Walcott said.
Elected officials say they welcome the robust economic activities but not at the expense of their constituents.
“This building boom that we see is a testament to the economic health of our city,” State Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “It should go without saying that this success should not come at the expense of the men and women who do the hard work that leads to these accomplishments. The cost for the wealthy in our city continuing to do well should not be the broken bodies and dreams of the rest of our citizens.”
“The hard working construction workers who labor day in and day out to build a better city for all of us deserve strong workplace protections and adequate opportunities for training that keep them safe on the job and allow them to return home to their families each night,” City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer said.
“After six construction workers were injured when a floor collapsed from under them, I join today with Build Up NYC to demand the suspension of this contractor’s license until all violations have been corrected and the site has been inspected to ensure the safety of the construction workers and my constituents,” he added.
In the midst of this explosion of luxury developments, thousands of construction and building services workers come to work every day at more than 100 buildings currently under construction or planned in Long Island City and Astoria. Too many of these workers are employed by low-road contractors who pay low wages and do not provide real health care benefits. And, with very little training, these jobs do not provide career paths and are unsafe.
Build Up NYC is an alliance of working men and women committed to responsible development and good jobs that sustain the middle class and a level playing field for responsible employers.