Remembering Our Brethren
by Bill Hohlfeld, Local 46
Yesterday, in New York City, the second annual Memorial Mass for fallen construction workers was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral where, to the strains of IBEW bagpipes about 1000 people gathered and honored the memory of the 18 construction workers who lost their lives in the past year.. Father Brian Jordan, chaplain to the NYC Building Trades said the Mass and his homily centered on solidarity and the dignity of work. He stressed the fact that the economy exists to support people. People do not exist for the sake of wealth accumulation. Local 46 was well represented, not only bits elected officers and members who filled the pews, but also by our own Business Manager, Bob Ledwith,who took his place at the pulpit for the second reading of the Mass.
In addition to the Building Trades, present on the altar were members of the Building Trades Employers Association, OSHA representatives and the NYC Buildings Department. Eighteen chairs, empty except for roses, were on the altar too; one to represent each fallen worker. The goal was set by Father Jordan to celebrate the Mass next year with no empty chairs. He went on to say that in his perfect world, every construction worker would be a union member with wages and benefits workers need and deserve.
Gary La Barbera, President of the New York City Building Trades went on to offer condolences, and thanked the representatives of employers and government agencies for taking the time to recognize the tragedy of each lost life within the construction industry. This year, the ceremony was particularly poignant for our Local, as on March 18th, we lost one of our own - a 28 year old Apprentice, Anthony Paino, who, soon to become a Journeyman and soon to be married, fell ten stories to his death. May we all remember him in our prayers.