Essential Workers Honor Key Bridge Tragedy Families

Essential Workers Honor Key Bridge Tragedy Families


BALTIMORE, MD – In a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance, construction workers, community leaders, and labor partners gathered at CASA’s Baltimore Worker Center to pay tribute to the families affected by the horrific Key Bridge collapse. More than fifty construction workers donned hard hats and reflective vests and held white tulips as they walked single file into the worker center. Their fists were high in the air, solemnly chanting, “We are with you. Today. And Always. Right here. Right now. Always.” They asked President Biden for substantive relief – work permits, through Temporary Protected Status – for essential workers who have lived in the country for years.

Six yellow construction hats sat in a circle on a round table, which was covered in traditional Central American textile.

Workers shared their history of injury.

CASA Member Victoriano Almendares, a Maryland resident of 21 years, shared, “In 2019, I endured a workplace accident where I fell from a great height, resulting in fractures in my spine and a severe muscle tear in my abdomen. This left me disabled for a long time, with years of hospital visits. I am now unable to work from those heights because my balance is off and I have limited mobility. As an essential worker, I share my story knowing that many people in Maryland and across the country can relate to my fallen colleagues and their families. One day we may be here, and the next we may not—that’s the risk of being a construction worker, sacrificing for our families.”

While he was working, Evelio Webster fell from the top of a ladder, breaking his arm from the fall. He still has pain and difficulty on the job. He described, “For three years, I have worked hard in remodeling, supporting my family despite the dangerous nature of this industry. From my labor and that of so many immigrants, the economy of this country flourishes. But why don’t our dreams grow with it? Our dignity as humans, our well-being? Why is it that when tragedies happen we are the ones who fall into darkness suffering?” He further shared, “Eight people – six dead – and dozens of families have been touched for the rest of their lives. And we will never forget you. You will be the light, and we will continue to fight for dignity for all essential workers. The people of Baltimore and the entire nation will push for justice together!”

Darwin Orlando Lopez met his wife and is raising his kids in Baltimore County. Hailing from Central America, Darwin has lived in the state for more than a decade. He shares, “I risk life and limb daily, remodeling homes and offices to put food on the table. It’s time for tangible action from President Biden to support these invisible heroes. We demand migrant relief, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or work permits, to safeguard our respect and dignity.”

Erika Aleman works construction to support her two teenagers as a single mother. This Baltimore City resident from Honduras shared, “I am proud to be a construction worker. The contributions that immigrants like myself offer this city and this country uplift the future of every family, well beyond mine. But I face that same danger that the six construction workers faced every time I leave for the job site – what would happen to my children if I were to perish like they did? I stand here in memory of the six workers who fell into that water and never returned home. Immigrants are essential workers that deserve true and substantial protection.”

Reverend Kobi Little, president of the NAACP Maryland State Conference, shared, “The message of Good Friday is a message of love, of sacrifice, of solidarity. Today we the NAACP in Maryland express our condolences and our love. We recognize the sacrifices that the immigrant community has suffered. We know that this country is a country of immigrants. We have always celebrated this, and today we celebrate the immigrants across the U.S. who continue to build and serve this country. With solemnity, we observe the contributions of the workers who lost their lives this week. They have made a difference in this community and country. They are true Americans.”

Ray Kelly, executive director of Citizens Policing Project, “There was a man who gave his life so that we might all live, and we have celebrated that for over 2,000 years. The Catholic in me sees the correlation between these horrible events and the seasons we celebrate in our faiths. Immigrants do the jobs that no one wants to do. I stand in solidarity with them – workers who risk their lives for our comfort. I offer up sincerest condolences to the families that lost loved ones: Your sacrifices do not go unrecognized. They will deliver light for the world to see.”

“In a nation where immigrants are frequently subject to demonization, we are reminded once again of their immense contributions. Together with our U.S.-born brothers and sisters, we build this nation,” closed Gustavo Torres, CASA’s executive director. “The President has a responsibility to honor them with the most available in his power right now, and that’s temporary protected status.”

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