LIUNA holds rally at Jersey City City Hall after construction worker dies from fall


The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) held a rally at Jersey City City Hall yesterday after a construction worker died from a fall last week.

Photo courtesy of LIUNA.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Juan Jose Coc, 40, fell four stories to his death from the Communipaw Avenue construction site where he was employed on Friday, February 2nd. He is survived by a wife and one child, according to LIUNA officials.

“While much media attention is given to WHAT is being built in Jersey City, little attention is given to HOW buildings are constructed and the risk construction workers are faced with each and every day,” LIUNA Vice President and Eastern Regional Manager Michael E. Hellstrom said in a statement.

“In many cases, workers are faced with the horrible choice between earning a paycheck or putting themselves at-risk. It shouldn’t be an either/or. Workers deserve a fair wage for their labor AND the ability to go home after a hard day’s work healthy and in one piece.”

For the past eight months, LIUNA members have taken to the streets to implore public officials and the development community to do more to protect workers.

A series of serious injuries to immigrant construction workers—one at Kushner Companies’ One Journal Square project and one at LeFrak’s The Wave project—both resulted in workers being moved, without medical supervision, via cranes and trash receptacles.

Workers were literally treated like garbage. LIUNA has asked City officials to take the lead

Bernard Callegari, assistant regional manager for LIUNA, cited labor statistics that demonstrate construction as one of the most dangerous occupations in America.

Yet, Callegari argued, there is a collective indifference to construction injuries.

“Were we to see teachers or cashiers dying or becoming seriously injured at the same rate of construction workers, people would be taking to the streets, hearings would be called for, and there would be demands for immediate change,” he asserted.

“At this point, there has been little proactive steps taken to protect workers, only timid responses after the fact.”

Near the conclusion of the vigil, attendees illuminated candles and a roll call was read of thirty incidents in Jersey City where a worker was either seriously injured or killed on the job. The last fatality mentioned was the most recent one, that of Coc.

Members of his family, who asked to remain anonymous, were in attendance, as were Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Assemblywomen Barbara Stamato (D-31) and Jessica Ramirez (D-32), Council President Joyce Watterman, and Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey.

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  1. Very sad that hard working people are injured and killed like this. Many of the immigrants don’t have the skill sets or ability to work so far off the ground, but they take these jobs because they want to work and support their families.