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Coronavirus In NYC: Construction Workers ‘Keep Building, Even If Sick’

Published Friday, March 20, 2020
by Jacob Henry & Rich Calder/The New York Post
Coronavirus In NYC: Construction Workers ‘Keep Building, Even If Sick’

(NEW YORK CITY) - The Big Apple’s Construction Trades Workers are still showing up for work - sometimes even while sick - putting new pressure on City Hall to close down job sites as it battles the spread of Coronavirus, The New York Post has learned.

The developments come as Construction Union Officials and sources told the paper that Mayor Bill de Blasio is eyeing a shutdown of the industry, like what happened in Boston.

“If we knew that, they’d be escorted off the site if they were not going voluntarily,” said City Building Trades Employers Association President Lou Coletti, which represents 1,200 Unionized Contractors across the five boroughs.

He emphasized such action could only apply to Union jobs.

“I had a ‘bad fever the other day. I’m fine now, but I still gotta come to work,’” a 45-year-old Superintendent told a Post Reporter while working a construction site of a high-rise near Union Square.  “We have ‘extra’ wash stations, ‘we’re taking precautions, but we can’t stop (working) unless the city stops us.’  ‘There’s a lot of things involved, but we all wish someone would make that decision already.’”

Across the five boroughs, Construction Workers kept going about their business as usual.

“We ‘have to take care of what we gotta take care of,’” quipped Mario Morales, 33, who was working another job site in Manhattan. “We ‘gotta’ work.  ‘We have our masks, we’re washing our hands and taking the precautions.’”

Some lawmakers - including Brooklyn Councilmen Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca - are calling for the city to halt construction projects in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

When asked if the Mayor de Blasio supports a construction moratorium, his spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in an e-mail: “This is one of the many things we’re discussing.  We’ll let you know as soon as we have update.”

Coletti said the industry has asked city and state officials to give 28-to-48 hours notice before any shutdown so they could be better prepared.

“Right now our contractors and Union Officials ‘are tremendously conflicted,’” Coletti said. “Our ‘first priority is health and welfare of our project management staff and the Building Trade Union Workers, but in addition to that, there are concerns about the economic impact if job sites were to be shut down.’”

The Union Representatives said he was part of a conference call that took place earlier this week that included Deputy Mayor Vicki Been and other city officials, state officials, other Union Officials and top developers to discuss the industry’s immediate future.

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