Workers killed on Washington Ave. construction site Monday were not current union members

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LIVES LOST: Two women console each other after speaking with police outside the scene of a Washington Ave. hotel construction accident on Monday, June 4, 2018, in St. Louis. Two workers were killed while they were working in an elevator shaft at 1501 Washington Ave. – Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo

The workers employed by Gencorp Services and World Wrecking at the time of the accident were not members of Local 42, despite false claims from the companies, union says

St. Louis – Two workers who lost their lives Monday when they fell down an elevator shaft on a job site at 1501 Washington Ave. in St. Louis were current members of Laborers Local 42, which previously had members working on the site, the union said in a statement Wednesday.

Local 42, which represents over 2,000 workers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, issued the following statement regarding the incident and the unsafe conditions its members observed at the job site:

“Recently, Gencorp Services made claims that the workers involved in the tragic accident on Monday, June 4, 2018, were members of Local 42. This claim is false. The workers working for Gencorp Services and World Wrecking at the time of the accident were not members of Local 42.

“Gencorp Services approached World Wrecking to perform cutting torch work on the five elevator shafts within the Brown Shoe building because Gencorp Services did not have the expertise to perform this type of work. World Wrecking then approached Local 42 about signing an agreement to utilize Local 42 union workers to do this work.

“Local 42 members worked on the project with World Wrecking (a subcontractor of Gencorp Services) from January 29 – March 22 performing tasks such as the torching of the elevator shafts. Local 42 members worked from a spider basket while attached to a secondary safety line as they were trained to do. These union workers worked at 1501 Washington Avenue without any accidents. During the time they were on the job site, they reported several concerns to the local which we in turn reported to both OSHA and MoDNR.

“The first time we learned of new workers on the job site was after Monday’s tragic accident. World Wrecking hired these workers without Local 42’s knowledge thereby violating their contract. It is our belief that World Wrecking under the direction of Gencorp Services hired non-union workers because they did not like that union workers reported safety concerns on the job site.

“It is our hope that all workplaces in St. Louis are safe and that a tragedy never happens again. The work our members do is dangerous and that is why they are trained to have the highest safety standards. It is a shame that World Wrecking and Gencorp Services skirted the union workers and that this tragedy occurred.”

WORKERS IDENTIFIED

The two men who were killed have been identified at 44-year-old Joey Hale and 58-year-old Ben Ricks, both of whom were suspended inside an elevator shaft when the tasked they were in dropped from the sixth floor. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

A third worker was injured and was transported to a hospital.

INVESTIGATIONS UNDER WAY

The St. Louis City Fire Department and OSHA are investigating the incident. Work at the construction site has been terminated until further notice.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, on Tuesday, announced the city has opened an investigation in the incident.

The Labor Tribune is following this story and will have complete details in the June 14 print edition.

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