Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2014

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Unions threaten CityCenter walkout over safety

Construction workers will walk off the job at CityCenter at midnight tonight if the general contractor, Perini Building Company, does not follow through on steps to improve safety, union leaders said today.

Flanked by nearly 30 local union leaders, Steve Ross, executive secretary-treasurer of the Southern Nevada Building Trades Council, announced at a press conference this afternoon that in a meeting this morning union leaders had unanimously voted to demand that Perini agree to pay for additional safety training for workers, allow national union researchers to examine root causes of safety problems on the site, and allow union leaders full access to the work site.

The deaths of six construction workers at CityCenter is "unacceptable," Ross said.

The public pronouncement was prompted in part by the death of Dustin Tarter, a 39-year-old operating engineer who became the latest casualty when he was crushed to death Saturday by the counterweight of a crane at the $9.2 billion MGM Mirage project.

Ross said workers were prepared to "take action" if the site's general contractor, Perini, did not adhere to a list of demands by tonight. Ross declined to state firmly that workers were prepared to walk off the job, but after the press conference Building Trades consultant Steve Redlinger told the Sun that if no agreement is reached by midnight to examine safety problems at CityCenter, workers would refuse to work.

Eleven workers have died in construction accidents on the Las Vegas Strip in the last 18 months - more than were reported during the entire 1990s Las Vegas building boom. Nine of those workers died at projects overseen by general contracting giant Perini, including the six at CityCenter.

"It's time to stop talking about worker safety, and time to start putting into place policies that are going to improve worker safety on this job site," said Ross.

After the press conference, Ross followed the local labor leaders into a meeting room where the group planned to negotiate into the evening with Perini.

Perini has, according to Ross and Redlinger, already agreed informally in previous conversations to the Council's demands. The Council is waiting for the contractor to officially sign papers to put the plan into action.

"There was a tacit agreement that these things would be no problem, but the problem is in the follow-up," Redlinger said.

Perini representatives could not be reached today for comment.

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