We stand strong when we stand together
Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday’s rally with the Building Trades Council was a show of force that should make any person think twice about counting out construction unions, and the New York City District Council of Carpenters specifically. I want to personally thank all members who came out in the harsh weather to vigorously assert that unions are sick and tired of construction deaths being brushed under the rug by contractors and politicians alike. We had over 2,000 District Council members come out (and an estimated 20,000 construction workers in total) to be the voice of the 30 construction workers who have died over the past two years – proving that we take the saying ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ seriously.
As we heard from the many speakers, which included city officials and union leaders standing together on stage, construction site safety, and its horrible record in the last year, has become an epidemic that is getting worse, and those whose job it is to prevent it are doing nothing. Construction remains a hazardous occupation, but there are steps that can and must be taken to drastically reduce or eliminate accidents and fatalities. To date, the City of New York has failed to adequately protect construction workers from the exploitative practices of unscrupulous contractors. Since January 2015, 30 construction workers have died on construction sites across the five boroughs. 90 percent of those fatalities occurred on nonunion sites. Latino and Immigrant workers are disproportionately affected by these unsafe work conditions. According to 2015 OSHA statistics, 57 percent of fatalities from falls are Latino workers, while Latinos make up only 30 percent of the construction workforce. New York’s elected officials have a responsibility to protect and value the lives of workers that build our city.
Intro. 1447 is a bill that covers a lot of different problems, problems that have been neglected for too long: requiring apprenticeship programs on large jobsites, and equivalent training programs on smaller ones; modernize and regulate crane use and installation; and increasing the regulation of federally funded sites, and increasing the penalties for excessive violations on any construction sites.
Our members get the best training in the industry, because safety is of the utmost importance on the buildings in this city, and mandatory safety training requirements for all workers will protect both construction workers and pedestrians. By mandating apprenticeship training or its equivalent on major buildings and a bona fide training program for smaller buildings, our elected officials can take a necessary step toward ensuring a safer and more equitable city. The City can no longer be complicit in the exploitation of its most vulnerable citizens, and yesterday’s massive attendance from construction union workers (and I imagine some non-union workers as well) proved that we’ve got something to say about it that will be heard.
Even if you couldn’t make it yesterday, know that we made a statement. It’s the same statement we always make in solidarity when union workers are not treated with respect, and once again it’s a statement that will get an answer, and one that we want. When we stand together as a Council, and all unions for that matter stand together, we are an unstoppable force. We’re here to raise the standards of our industry!