FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MAY 2, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Jack. Hts. worker center holds vigil for workers killed on the job
BY MAX PARROTT
New Immigrant Community
Empowerment (NICE), the Jackson
Heights worker advocacy group, organized
a march and vigil for April 29 to
honor workers who have died on the job
and to rally for more worker protection.
A crowd of around 300 workers, family
members and advocates began outside
City Hall and squeezed over Brooklyn
Bridge’s walkway to hold a candlelight
vigil in Dumbo. Th e marchers, joined
by Sunset Park City Councilman Carlos
Menchaca, carried dozens of white crosses
bearing the names of construction
workers who have died throughout New
York state since 2015.
“We want to make sure that the community
knows we’re doing as much as
we can to make sure workers are protected,
but also remembered,” said Manny
Castro, executive director of NICE.
Latino construction workers, like many
of those affi liated with NICE, are more
likely to die on the job than non-Latino
workers in the state, concluded a
January report by New York Committee
for Occupational Safety and Health. Out
of the 16 workers construction workers
who died in New York City over the past
year, 14 of them were Latino, according
Th e vigil comes aft er increased pressure
from in New York City on Albany to
increase construction industry accountability,
following the death of three workers
on construction sites around the city
within one week in April. Th e mother of
Erik Mendoza, a Jackson Heights resident
who was one of the fatalities, stood among
the crowd in Lower Manhattan.
Th ough NICE has several campaigns
for public policy reform including, the
rally focused instead on honoring the
experience of immigrant construction
workers. Th e demand that the speakers
proposed was the establishment of a
memorial for New York City’s day laborers
and construction workers who have
died on the job.
“We wanted to focus on the human side
of the issue,” said Castro. “A lot of our
members felt strongly like we should do
something like this for years.”
Th e workers packed the Brooklyn
Bridge walkway, chanting “Ni uno mas”
– or “not one more” – forcing selfi e-taking
pedestrians to take notice. When they
arrived at the Empire Ferry Park, they laid
their crosses in a pile and gave speeches
commemorating the dead.
While listening to the speeches, Lowell
Barton the Vice President of Laborers
Local 1010 said that two members of his
union were included on the pile of crosses.
He said that New York state needs legislation
to put contractors who don’t provide
proper safety precautions in prison.
“How many memorials are we going to
have to have? It’s not just people who die.
So many people get disfi gured, and they
can never go to work again,” Barton said.
Aft er the speeches, NICE worked with
Th e Illuminator, a guerrilla political projection
collective, to project the faces of
many of the deceased workers onto a trestle
of the Brooklyn Bridge.
A slide of the projection read, “We
demand safe dignifi ed work.”
“All the time, people die in the scaffolding,”
said Walter Hernandez, Jackson
Heights-based construction worker,
referring to the fact that fatals falls
account for the top cause of construction
fatalities. In New York City, 78 workers
died due to falls over the past 10 years,
which on average accounted for 46 percent
of all construction deaths, according
“Th e point is that you need to protect
lives. No matter if you have papers or not,”
Hundreds gathered at the New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) vigil in Manhattan on
April 29 honoring the lives of construction workers who died on the job.
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