Construction unions marched in East New York last week demanding that the mayor’s affordable housing plan be built out with union labor. Not only do union jobs do more to reduce income inequality, the marchers argued, they are also safer.
“Workers are being maimed, injured, and even killed on some of these jobs sites for a poverty wage,” Ruben Colon, an organizer with New York District Council of Carpenters told LaborPress. “On top of that, the very workers that build this housing can’t afford to live there.”
Construction workers do make up a good share of the New York City workers who are killed each year. From 21 deaths in the industry in 2003, the number has risen and fallen to 11 fatalities last year.
That decline is part of a general trend in New York City and state of reduced fatalities at the workplace (see the charts below). One characteristic that sets construction deaths apart is that most of them are accidental and occur at a fixed worksite: In other industries that see a number of fatalities, they are more likely to occur in transit or as a result of some violent act.