By Bill Parry
Elected officials and community groups joined members of Build Up NYC Tuesday to urge the city to suspend the license of a contractor for an accident at a Long Island City construction project that injured six workers last month.
The rally took place at the Rabsky Group’s construction site at 42-20 27th St. where part of the eighth floor collapsed after concrete was poured June 26.
The city Department of Buildings issued an immediate stop work order because the Rabsky Group’s contractor, Galaxy Developers LLC, was doing unapproved construction work. But the city did not move to suspend Galaxy’s license and it has since downgraded its action in the accident to a partial stop worker order.
“We call on New York City to suspend the license of Galaxy Developers LLC, pending an independent review by a structural engineer of all the work Galaxy Developers has done so far on the project,” Build Up NYC representative Dan Walcott said. “Going forward, the developer must show proof that they are providing sufficient training and equipment for all employees to work safely.”
The Rabsky Group’s project, an 18-story luxury apartment building, is part of the unprecedented growth in Long Island City, where construction projects are underway or planned on almost every block.
“This building boom that we see is testament to the economic health of our city,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said. “It should go without saying that this success should not come at the expense of the men and women who do the hard work that leads to these accomplishments. The cost for the wealthy in our city continuing to do well should not be the broken bodies and dreams of the rest of our citizens.”
Thousand of construction and building services workers come to work every day at more than 100 buildings currently under construction in Long Island City and Astoria, where three workers had to be rescued in a separate construction collapse in June. Too many of these workers are employed by “low-road contractors” who pay low wages and do not provide real health care benefits, according to Build Up NYC. And with very little training, these jobs can be unsafe.
Ironworker Ivan Medina, 22, said workers like him are at the mercy of employers who tend to exploit them.
“Thinking about the people who got hurt here and in Astoria makes my heart skip a beat because I know that could very well have been me,” he said. “Most of the time, my employers are low-road contractors who don’t pay good wages or benefits. It also means they don’t follow strict safety standards on the job.”
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) is co-sponsor of legislation known as the Apprentice Safety Bill that would require construction workers to complete an apprenticeship in safety before working on buildings 10 stories or higher. The measure is supported by 47 out of 51 Council members.
“The hardworking construction workers who labor day in and day out to build a better city for all of us deserve strong workplace protections and adequate opportunities for training that keep them safe on the job and allow them to return home to their families each night,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “After six construction workers were injured when a floor collapsed from under them, I join with Build Up NYC to demand the suspension of this contractor’s license until all violations have been corrected and the site has been inspected to ensure the safety of the construction workers and my constituents.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr