‘Hardhat Mass’ marks deaths of construction workers

By Terry Evans
May 14, 2018
‘Hardhat Mass’ marks deaths of construction workers
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NEW YORK — Hundreds of construction workers from across the city gathered after work outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral to attend the 10th annual “Hardhat Mass” on Workers Memorial Day April 26. They were commemorating the lives of 19 construction workers killed on worksites here over the last year. Hardhats for each of them were placed on chairs at the service along with a rose. Still wearing their own hardhats, workers marched into the cathedral.

Events to mark Workers Memorial Day were organized by trade unions around the country.

Presiding over the New York Mass, Father Brian Jordan said that 166 workers have been killed on construction sites in the decade since the first mass to mark the deaths was held.

This includes 46 workers on union-organized sites and 116 nonunion workers. “All the deceased are remembered regardless of their status,” Jordan said. “We emphasize the dignity of each human person in the construction industry.” Those killed were “disproportionately likely to be immigrants and low-wage workers,” he said, and mostly undocumented.

The rising number of deaths in the industry is a consequence of the construction bosses’ profit-driven assaults on all workers, union and nonunion. This includes attacks on wages, speedup and disregard for safety.

One of those commemorated, Edgar Pazmino, 35, was killed March 13 on a construction site in Queens that was shut down four times for safety violations in 2017 by city authorities. The bosses there owe over $67,000 in fines, a small price for them to pay to continue profiting from conditions and speedup that endanger workers’ lives.

The ongoing deaths highlight the need for workers to build fighting unions that can organize and unite all construction workers to win workers control over production conditions and safety.