Nestor Castillo tells a particularly feel-good story.
Castillo talks about his good job with the health insurance that he shares with his whole family, his annuity and pension and his good life with his wife and daughter and how he can’t wait to buy a house for his family.
But it was not always like that.
A native of Honduras, Castillo arrived in New York on New Year’s Day in 2013 and began working as a for a low road contractor as a carpenter. He learned what he could on the job and, since his employers did not even want to know whether he had an OSHA 10 card, it was like taking his own life in his hands everyday he went to work. He could only afford to rent a room, he didn’t make enough to pay for an apartment.
Did he worry about his safety in those days?
“I worried about eating and paying the rent, not for my safety,” Castillo said. “You have to work hard to show the bosses that you really want to work.”
It took him a little while but by March 2015, Castillo was able to get a job working for a responsible contractor and he got credited with his years of experience during the time he had previously worked as a carpenter.
“The contrast is really stark between a boss on a job with an irresponsible contractor where they just want the job done; they don’t care how,” Castillo said. “Now, the company supervisor will make sure you work safely.”
“You’re taught on jobs with responsible contractors to protect your partner and your partner will protect you. In the worksites with low road contractors, they are totally focused on doing their own thing and not watching out for each other, letting people know there’s a danger here or there’s a hole there, something that you have to be careful about.”
Castillo said he especially appreciates the opportunities he has had to continually train at the New York City District Council of Carpenters and Joiners of America school. He went from not knowing how to wear a harness to taking classes on how to get seven different certifications, like how to read blueprints, building forms, OSHA, fire card for welding, and a 32-hour scaffold safety class.
“They really showed me the way to work. Anything that I might want to learn is there, available for me. I just have to go to the school and look for it. If I decide I want to learn some new stuff, it’s just there and I can always go to the school and sign up for it,” he said.
Castillo was able to move from a room to an apartment and is now saving to buy a home. With a good job as his foundation, he can live the American dream and provide a good life for his wife and daughter.