ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
Precedent-Setting Conviction Over the Worksite Death of Carlos Moncayo –
But No Just Sentence or Punishment for Criminal Contractor, Harco Construction;
Judge Points to Weak State Laws That Protect Criminal Contractors
Harco Construction was sentenced to conditional discharge today after a June conviction in the worksite death of Carlos Moncayo. The court ordered that the company fund a Public Service Announcement campaign focused on warning construction workers and the public about health and safety, particularly about trench hazards, or pay the legally mandated maximum $10k fine if they failed to comply. The 10K was reduced from the projected $35K maximum because several charges were in the same category. Harco Construction was convicted of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count; Criminally Negligent Homicide, a class E felony, 1 count; Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor, 3 counts). Before the court even mentioned the compliance date of 12/14, Harco’s attorney defiantly emphasized that the company was not guilty, would not comply and would rather just pay the minimal fine.
Advocates were pleased with the June conviction and hopeful about the added punishment suggested by ADA Florence’s office, since the most the company could be fined based on state laws that govern company wrong-doing, was the too-low fine.
“Despite Harco’s belligerent refusal to comply with the court sentence, NYCOSH is encouraged that there is increased worker-led movement and prosecutorial action to hold criminal contractors accountable for deaths and for endangering the lives of workers and neglecting workplace safety,” said Nadia Marin-Molina, the organization’s associate director. “The judge today referred to the weak state laws that allow a corporation to get away with a nominal fine despite a manslaughter conviction – sending the message that companies can continue to act with impunity. This is just the beginning of a movement to organize, prosecute and legislate so that employers shift toward a culture of preventing injuries and deaths. Our hearts are with Carlos Moncayo’s family today – they deserved better and he deserved to reach home safely.”
NYCOSH followed the trial and accompanied the family jointly with a community comprised of health and safety advocates, unions, worker centers, faith community and especially workers, that showed up for the family in accompaniment during this trial, including: the family of Delfino Velasquez, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, El Centro del Inmigrante, Iglesia San Jeronimo, La Colmena (formerly Staten Island Community Job Center), Make the Road New York, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE), New Labor, Obreros Unidos de Yonkers/Catholic Charities, USW and The Labor Center, Wind of the Spirit, Workers’ Justice Project (WJP) and Workplace Project.
NYCOSH looks forward to collaborating with ally organizations, members and workers across New York to seek justice in the cases of workers that have been killed due to the negligence and recklessness of criminal contractors. Especially in this construction boom, workers in New York deserve health and safety enforcement, regulations and advocacy that will ensure every one of them reaches home safely after a day’s work.