Transit unions want contract work halted after worker electrocuted

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Long Island Rail Road labor leaders want the MTA to halt all construction work by outside contractors — after one of its hired hands was electrocuted over the weekend.

In a letter to MTA exec Janno Lieber on Saturday immediately following the incident, union heads Anthony Simon and Christopher Natale demanded Lieber “conduct immediate safety stand downs for third party contractors,” according to a copy of the text obtained by The Post.

A female contractor working on a pedestrian bridge at Mineola station as part of the LIRR’s $2.6 billion “Third Track” expansion effort was seriously injured Saturday morning after a crane hit a high voltage power line and “created an arc” to the bridge, injuring the woman, according to official accounts.

The injury was one of many recent mishaps by outside contractors working on LIRR projects, Simon and Natale charged in their letter.

An ironworker was injured while working at the LIRR Mineola station on March 13, 2021.
An ironworker was injured while working at the LIRR Mineola station on March 13, 2021.
Dennis A. Clark

Other incidents included a December accidental electrocution and an incident on March 9 in which four LIRR workers “were forced to escape through a plexiglass window” after contractors demolished an adjacent building without warning, the men wrote.

“These incidents are incredibly concerning to us as labor leaders,” they said — noting that LIRR workers “historically have handled the great majority of the work on LIRR property.”

The LIRR’s role in capital construction allows workers to earner overtime pay, since the work usually takes place during weekends, an MTA source said.

An LIRR worker wears a protective mask as commuters exit and board a train at Jamaica station on April 29, 2020 in Queens
An LIRR worker wears a protective mask as commuters exit and board a train at Jamaica station on April 29, 2020 in Queens.
AP

Five LIRR workers currently face federal charges of overtime fraud and conspiracy — including for hours earned working on capital projects.

In a written response date Saturday, Lieber promised a “full investigation” into Saturday’s electrocution. Work will not resume until “responsible safety professionals… are satisfied that any finding and recommendations coming out of the investigation have been addressed,” he said.

Lieber declined the labor leaders’ call to pause all work by outside contractors.

“We have successfully progressed on important projects…. using a combination of our dedicated in-house forces and skilled union labor crafts,” he wrote.

“These projects often require specialized trades and have historically employed skilled contractor labor.”

Simon and Natale’s letter was first reported by Newsday.



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Erin Mosley

Erin Mosley writes for the Hollywood section of Newzinto.