For Philadelphia’s 2nd hearing into this month’s fatal building collapse, City Council is listening to business, union and construction officials.
Pat Gillespie, who heads up the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, says demolition is an inherently dangerous business even when done correctly. He says some non-union contractors use untrained, uncertified workers who are afraid to push back when they see a problem.
“Through the protection of collective bargaining, a worker can speak up and tell the forman or tell the owner and tell the boss I’m not going to do that, that’s unsafe, and not put his job in jeopardy,” said Gillespie.
Councilman Jim Kenney says he’s concerned about the construction business in the city.
“This building was clearly a disaster, it was large loss of life,” said Kenney. “Every single day that opportunity presents itself in the construction industry in Philadelphia, because it is largely in most cases unmonitored.”
Former head of the African American Chamber of Commerce Bruce Crawley says back in 2006 there was a training program for minority demolition contractors.
“Over the past seven years or so virtually all of the minority demolition contractors have been driven from that specialty,” said Crawley.
Before the collapse, Philadelphia did not require demolition contractors to be certified in this specialty, it’s moving in that direction now.
The Council Committee reviewing the collapse has three more hearings scheduled.