Brooklyn, New York – On April 25th, members of the Worker’s Justice Project (WJP) along with their families, community members and supporters marched through the streets of Brooklyn to reclaim their dignity and a safe workplace for all workers.
Over 60 workers and community members gathered in the front steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to honor the life of workers like Vidal Sanchez-Roman, who recently died after falling from six-story commercial building owned by Neptune Group LLC in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
“We are marched because Vidal Sanchez-Roman is one of the many fathers, mothers, sons, and grandparents whose lives were stolen from us by unethical employers who put a price on their lives. We will not soon nor easily forget the loss of Vidal Sanchez-Roman, Victor Chafla, Tonny Teskera, Toni Jackson and many more who have died building our city.” Ligia Guallpa, Executive Director, Worker’s Justice Project (WJP)
At the march, day laborers who build New York City will be hold employers accountable for these deaths. “We strongly believe that having a safe and healthy workplace is a right not a privilege. Thus, we marched and continue to organize to demand stronger safety standards in the workplace and to hold employers accountable for putting our lives on the line.” Antonio Sanchez, Member and Safety Liaison of WJP
According to Maria Figueroa, Director, Labor and Policy Research of The Worker Institute at Cornell University, on average, 88 workers lose their lives per week across the U.S. according to OSHA statistics. This represents more than 12 deaths per day. One in five workers killed in private sector industries were in construction, where falls account approximately for 37 percent of deaths. These statistics most likely don’t capture the actual magnitude of the problem, but most of all they don’t reveal the gravity of the situation, since we are dealing with the loss of human lives. There is an urgent need for not only increased government enforcement, but also increased awareness to empower workers to monitor their workplaces for potential hazards. All workers should have access to safety training and information that would enable them to identify hazardous conditions and to demand safe workplaces. It is often said that information is power, but in this case information can actually help save lives.
“A safe workplace is a right, not a privilege. The majority of workplace fatalities that occur in construction are of immigrant and/or Latino workers. We need to make workplaces safer for everyone by ensuring that irresponsible contractors are fined appropriately and are not allowed to continually do business in New York City.” Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).
Let’s keep up the fight to protect all workers from wrongful occupational injuries and fatalities.