Atlantic City – Loosing four or their co-workers in a tragic construction accident was bad enough.
Now hundreds of building trades workers who had been busy on the Tropicana Casino and Resort expansion project are off the job indefinitely, with construction halted in the wake of the Oct 30 collapse of the parking garage.
It means we’re going to have unemployment here,” said Jim Kehoe, business manager for Local 322 of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local union. “We’re all waiting to find out when they can make the Job safe again and they can go back to work.”
Of the 70 members of Local 322 who had worked at the site. 20 have been placed on other jobs. But 50 others have been idled suddenly, facing uncertain prospects at the worst time of year for a slowdown.
Where you thought you had a job into the spring of next year. now you’re going into the holiday season not knowing. You’re praying for (victims) families but also worrying where your next check is going to come from, ~ Kehoe said.
About 300 trades people -electricians. carpenters, ironworkers, cement masons and others – were working on the expansion project before the accident.
Four died and 20 others were injured when the top five floors of the unfinished 10-story garage crashed down as concrete was being poured on the top floor.
The garage was pan of a $254 million expansion dubbed The Quarter that is to add a hotel tower, retail shops, restaurants and nightclubs to the Tropicana.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is Investigating the accident but its inspectors – along with representatives of general contractor Keating Building Corp. and a handful of demolition workers – are the only ones currently on the site.
OSHA. which is looking into reports that concrete was being poured too quick1y, has six months to complete its investigation. But a spokeswoman said Wednesday it is unknown how long onsite work will take or when the garage will be cleared for workers to resume.
Tropicana officials don’t know, either, according to spokeswoman Maureen Siman.
There’s no time frame,” said Kate Dugan, OSHA spokeswoman. It will be done safely, but we can’t give you an estimate. It’s day to day.”
It’s unclear how many of the construction workers may have found work on other projects.
Keating Building Corp. spokesman Jason Rocker said the company does not know when it may be able to resume work.
But even those idled by the accident know they are the lucky ones.
“A paycheck you can find somewhere,· Kehoe said. “But you can’t replace the lives that were lost.”