Philadelphia Building Trades Union Alerted Inspections Office to Center City’s Dangers

Philly Building Collapse

When the awful story of yesterday’s fatal Philadelphia building collapse broke, our first inclination was to find out who the contractor was and how they could be so careless. Video subsequently surfaced of the company, Griffin- Campbell, doing a less than bang up job at a previous demolition last weekend adding fuel to the fire of outcry over their ineptitude.

Now, it has come to the attention of CBS in Philadelphia that union construction organizations alerted the city’s Licenses & Inspection office to the potential dangers of the Center City demolition:

Following a deadly building collapse in Center City, Pat Gillespie, the head of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, told WPHT’s Dom Giordano that the unions alerted L&I about the building before it fell.

“[The building] brought in this contractor…who’s non-union. I do know that a carpenter working across the street…had gone over and warned people, ‘Look, this isn’t going to work,’” Gillespie said, referring to the way the building demolition was being handled.

“On a number of occasions, from what I was told, they alerted L&I about it,” Gillespie added. “They also, from what I was told this morning, had an interview with police.”

Much has been made this year of a pair of contractor brothers, the Pestronks, challenging union labor’s longtime relationship with the city of Philadelphia. Union construction workers have been characterized repeatedly in Philadelphia newspapers as bullies who raise costs without providing benefit. However, instances like the one in Center City yesterday are the exact reason these unions have had such a strong tradition in Philadelphia and other blue collar cities like it. They are accountable for their work. When low-road contractors run ripshod through town, unchecked with under-achieving workers, disaster is always around the corner. Union workers and organizations should not have to act as policemen for the dangerous and unscrupulous practices of unaccountable contractors.

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