FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
NYC ADVOCATES FOR WORKER SAFETY AND HEALTH PUSH FOR JUSTICE IN PROMINENT CASE AGAINST CRIMINAL CONTRACTOR, HARCO CONSTRUCTION
Unions, Worker Centers and Advocates Stand United in Solidarity
with The Family of Carlos Moncayo
New York, NY (June 9, 2016) —Leading advocates, unions, community groups, and worker centers gathered to push for a criminal conviction of Harco Construction LLC on Thursday June 9, the day of final arguments. The groups have been calling for Justice for Carlos Moncayo, a 23 year old worker who was killed in an excavation collapse. The contractor, Harco Construction LLC, was charged by New York County District Attorney Vance with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. Mr. Moncayo’s family, workers, and safety advocates continue to call for stronger regulations and enforcement to protect workers, while calling for criminal prosecution of contractors whose workplace conditions lead to preventable worker injuries and deaths.
Advocates from the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, El Centro del Inmigrante, 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, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), Wind of the Spirit, Workers’ Justice Project (WJP) and Workplace Project, gathered outside of the courthouse at 100 Centre Street at 9:00am at a vigil for Moncayo, in support of his family members. They have planned a press conference at the lunchtime adjournment.
Advocates continue to highlight the significance of this trial to show that law enforcement agencies across the country can hold criminal contractors accountable to make the construction industry safer for all workers. With the example of Manhattan D.A. Vance, and now D.A. Thompson in Brooklyn, who it was announced this week, is bringing charges in another worksite fatality case, New York City is the city to watch. D.A. Thompson has charged Salvatore Schirripa with manslaughter in the death of Vidal Sanchez-Ramon and his companies, J & M Metro General Contracting Corp. and Metrotech Development Corp., are also variously charged in the eight-count indictment with failing to comply with city regulations.
In 2015, 17 workers died on unsafe construction sites in New York City and just this year, 5 workers have died in the area: 2/4, Konstantinos Potamousis, age 62, in East Harlem; 4/1, Alex Santizo, age 21, in Brooklyn; 4/16, Igor Bergun, age 54, in Brooklyn; 4/22, Luis Mata, age 32, in Manhattan; 5/31, Vitor Nobre, age 55, in East Hampton. Workers and advocates stated that if employers understand they can no longer get away with violating safety and health regulations, workers’ lives will be better protected.
Monica Velázquez, who has led the Justice for Delfino campaign was present at the trial in support of the Moncayo family. The campaign arose after her father Delfino Velazquez, was killed when a roof collapsed on him while working on the demolition of an auto dealership for Formica Construction on Staten Island in November of 2014. “I miss my father every single day and I know Carlos is missed by his family too. My heart aches for our families because I know the deaths of our loved ones were entirely avoidable,” said Monica Velázquez. “I am here today in honor of my father’s memory and to let the Moncayo family know they are not alone in their grief nor in their plight for justice as they seek prosecution of dangerous employers.”
Advocates stated they are united and hopeful for a just outcome in which the court has the opportunity to send a message that workers’ lives are more valuable than any company or profit:
“The Building Trades stand united in our resolve to ensure that the family of Carlos Moncayo receives justice. For far too long criminally negligent and reckless contractors have been merely slapped on the wrist with no real consequences. The Harco Construction trial has the opportunity to change all of that. Irresponsible contractors should be put on notice that they can no longer put profits ahead of the safety of workers and that they will be held liable for their actions.”
– Gary LaBarbera, president, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
“This case shows that safety must be the priority at workplace, it doesn’t matter the immigration status of the worker. This is about human rights.”
– Favio Ramirez-Caminatti, executive director, El Centro del Inmigrante and El Centro’s Community Job Center.
“We continue to stand up for Carlos Moncayo and all the workers that have lost their lives trying to put food on the table. We cannot allow one more preventable death and this trial should send a clear message to all unscrupulous employers to stop cutting corners and protect the lives of their workers. We also look forward to work with lawmakers to strengthen and create legislation to enhance worker protections on health and safety.”
– Gonzalo Mercado, La Colmena
“As the trial comes to a close, we vigilantly await a just verdict. We believe the evidence shows that Harco must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the tragic death of Carlos Moncayo. This is one of the few cases that has been taken seriously by the DA, and we hope that this marks the beginning of a larger effort to crack down on unsafe and exploitative workplaces.”
– Cal Soto, Workers’ Rights Coordinator of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
“We need Harco Construction LLC to be held accountable for Carlos Moncayo’s death. Passing along the responsibility is a lack of respect. We have the right to a safe and healthful workplace, and knowingly putting us as workers at risk is a complete lack of respect for us as people.”
– Jonass Mendoza, member and safety liaison of New Labor.
“The lives of construction workers, like Carlos Moncayo, who are building New York every day, should never be sacrificed for the sake of ever higher profits. Harco Construction must be convicted to show all contractors that they are criminally responsible when workers die because of their disregard for workers lives.”
– Charlene Obernauer, executive director, NYCOSH
“Workers are always exposed in our work, it’s a miracle many of us are alive, what happened to Carlos could have happened to many of us, that’s why justice must be done in this case; it is justice for all of us and a lesson for irresponsible contractors who care more about money than people.”
– Carlos Valladares, worker at Wind of the Spirit, Immigrant Resource Center
“Members of the Worker’s Justice Project (WJP) are joining forces to call for justice for Carlos Moncayo, Vidal Sanchez-Roman and many others who have died building our city. We are indignant and we won’t be silent until Harco Construction and many other negligent contractors are held accountable for these deaths. Workers lives matter and we will fight for more accountability and for stronger safety standards in the workplace. No more deaths!”
– Ligia Guallpa, Executive Director at Worker’s Justice Project (WJP)