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A Construction Worker Died Here - Six Years After Carlos Moncayo’s Death, ‘Grief, Anger, Frustration & Construction Fatalities Continue In New York City’

Published Thursday, April 15, 2021
by Joe Maniscalco/
A Construction Worker Died Here - Six Years After Carlos Moncayo’s Death, ‘Grief, Anger, Frustration & Construction Fatalities Continue In New York City’

(NEW YORK CITY) - New Yorkers flocked to the beautiful al fresco dining along 9th Avenue’s cobblestone streets near the Chelsea Market, few if any, understanding that a 22-year-old Non-Union Construction Worker named Carlos Moncayo died six years ago, in a trench collapse steps away from their plates of fresh burrata and baby kale arugula salad.

“If a dozen Police Officers or a dozen Firemen died every year, there would be investigations from here all the way downtown.  But if it’s a Construction Worker  - a Latino Construction Worker, people who look like me - who’s doing anything about it?,” Rubén Colón, an Area Standards Department Representative for the New York City District Council of Carpenters, told Members of Moncayo’s family and supporters who recently gathered together for a curbside memorial.

Two dozen Construction Workers were actually killed on the job in 2019, according New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health’s (NYCOSH) newly-released Deadly Skyline report.

Over the past decade, an average of 20 Construction Workers died every year - 215 Construction Workers in total.

The highest number of fatalities in a single year happened in 2014, when 28 Construction Workers went to work in the morning and never returned home again.

And it is Non-Union Hispanic Workers like Moncayo who suffer disproportionately throughout The Empire State

Although Latinos comprise an estimated 10% of New York State’s workforce, they suffered 20.5% of Worker fatalities in 2019. 

Just last June, 32-year-old father of two Wilson Patricio Lopez Flores was killed when the forklift he was operating flipped over and crushed him on a construction site in Queens.

NYCOSH analyzed the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) 19 construction fatalities investigations in 2019 and found that in New York City, nearly 70% of Workers who died on private job sites were Non-Union.

That figure rose to nearly 80% when NYCOSH looked at the 32 OSHA-investigated sites in New York State.

Although Amazon Workers in Bessemer, Alabama failed to secure a Union this time out, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum attributed the success and notoriety of the on-going Unionization drive to it being as much a “Civil Rights issue as a Labor issue.”

Since Moncayo’s grisly death in 2015, the City of New York has responded with legislation meant to crack down on crooked developers and callous subcontractors who exploit vulnerable Immigrant Workers like Moncayo in pursuit of higher profit margins. 

But six years after Moncayo’s avoidable death, Worker Advocates have little faith that there is enough enforcement being done

Diana Florence - the former head of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Construction Fraud Task Force, who is enjoying strong support from the Building Trades in her bid to succeed her old boss, Cy Vance – said: “Carlos’ life was disposable to the powerful people that he worked for” and “there is no accountability for people who abuse Workers.”

NYCOSH blames OSHA’s “mostly stagnant budget” for a “staggering decrease in inspections over the past twenty years.” 

OSHA construction fines for fatality cases in 2019 averaged $32,719.

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