After three workers were killed on construction sites around the city last week, City Councilman Francisco Moya rallied with union leaders and hard hats on the steps of City Hall on April 18 urging Albany to pass “Carlos’ Law.”
The legislation, championed by the late state Senator Jose Peralta and Moya when he was in the Assembly, is aimed at protecting the lives of construction workers at dangerous job sites, many of them immigrants from Queens that are being exploited with low wages and almost no safety training.
Moya, along with Assemblymembers Marcos Crespo and Carmen de la Rosa, Building Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera and labor leaders, rallied on the steps of City Hall to demand justice for hard hats and the immediate passage of Carlos’ Law.
“They tell us this city was built on the blood, sweat and tears of working-class New Yorkers, immigrants and laborers,” Moya said. “It’s time to retire that trope and stop with the bravado. We cannot continue romanticizing the cruel sacrifices that construction workers are asked or forced to make. Our skyline should not be built with the blood of workers or symbolize the tears of their families. State lawmakers must immediately pass Carlos’ Law to protect the workers who put their lives at risk on a daily basis in the name of progress. We owe the dead a better future, the future that they deserved. The spate of deaths last week requires no less.”
In 2015, then-Assemblyman Moya wrote Carlos’ law after 22-year-old Carlos Moncayo was buried alive on a construction site. The construction company responsible for the tragedy was later convicted of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide but only had to pay a fine of $10,000. Carlos’ Law would create class D and E felonies for developers whose negligence causes the death of a worker and increase fines up to $500,000.
Currently, contractors found criminally liable for the death of a worker face a maximum penalty of just $10,000.
The recent deaths of Nelson Salinas, Erik Mendoza and Gregory Echevarria in the span of one week highlighted the need to finally pass this bill.
“The recent string of fatalities on non-union construction sites across New York City is intolerable and has demonstrated an urgent need for elected officials to take action,” Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera said. “Too many lives have been lost and too many families have been broken, which is why I am calling on the state legislature to take immediate action to pass Carlos’ Law, so that we can protect the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters in the construction industry and bring more accountability to worksites in New York.”
The rally took a somber turn when Melissa Ortiz, the cousin of Gregory Echevarria, the 34-year-old who was crushed by part of a 7-ton crane that came loose at a Manhattan construction site, attended the rally and decided to speak at the last minute.stepped up to speak. Ortis spoke on behalf of her cousins four children.
“They know that they never want to see another family go through what they’re going through. These laws need to be changed,” she said. “It’s a simple thing to pass a law that says not another worker, not another life, not another death to be had on a site. You can not have this. Not in a city like New York that’s supposed to be so great.”
The Assembly has passed this bill twice before, only for it to languish under a Republican-controlled Senate. Such a partisan barrier no longer exists.