Manufacturing Perspectives

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Unqualified workers are filling in to do repair work on New York City Housing Authority elevators — a situation that could lead to disastrous results, according to one labor leader. “If a mistake is read here made someone could die,” said Gregory Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237. “I want to see trained elevator mechanics and elevator mechanic’s helpers working on elevators.” Due to an inability to fill job postings with elevator mechanic’s helpers, the Housing Authority has been using laborers with little training to do the work, documents obtained by the Daily News show. NYCHA elevator maintenance workers work on an elevator at Patterson Houses in the Bronx. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News) At least 18 people who work under the unskilled “city laborer” designation have been assigned to do elevator repair work in 17 public housing developments, including the Millbrook, Marcy and Baruch houses, according to a May 29 letter from Local 237 attorney Marty Glennon to NYCHA. “The failure to have trained personnel work on sophisticated electrical equipment creates serious safety concerns for our members and for NYCHA that needs to be addressed immediately,” Glennon wrote. “Despite the fact that the city laborers have no training or experience in working with electric or elevators, it is now NYCHA’s unwritten policy to jeopardize the safety of their employees and residents.” In mid-June, Housing Authority labor lawyer John Bilancini responded, writing that it hired the less skilled laborers to fill the posts because it was “unable to identify a sufficient number of qualified elevator mechanic’s helpers.” “City laborers undergo a training program,” he wrote. “[They] are always supervised by a supervisor of elevator mechanics, and they are never placed on night shifts, where there is less supervision.” Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd (Bryan Smith/HANDOUT) NYCHA spokeswoman Rochel Leah Goldblatt said that if laborers show they’re not up to snuff, “they will be released from their duties.” “Laborers were hired because we could not find qualified helpers and needed staff with a similar skill set,” she said.

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