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Baltimore Bridge Collapse Reveals Unsafe Working Conditions for Immigrant Workers

Six Latine immigrant workers died in the March 26 bridge collapse in Baltimore. The accident exposed how capitalism perpetuates dangerous working conditions for many immigrants, and funds genocide over crumbling public infrastructure.

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Cargo ship crashing into a bridge in Baltimore on March 26, 2024.

Around 1:30 AM on Tuesday, March 26, a cargo ship ran into the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, destroying the bridge and killing six people on it. The six were workers, four of whom were identified as Miguel Luna, Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval, Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, and Dorlian Ronial Castillo Cabrera, with two more missing people still unidentified. All of the men who passed were Latine immigrants and construction workers, and many have families who are experiencing immense grief and loss. 

Shortly before the Dali cargo ship hit the bridge, the crew issued a mayday call to evacuate the bridge. However, the six workers who were killed did not hear the warnings. Federal regulations require construction companies to keep safety boats called skiffs nearby whenever crews are working on waterways to warn workers before impact or rescue them as a bridge falls. In this case, there was no such safety boat, and it’s unclear whether workers would have had enough time to evacuate even if they had been issued a warning. The construction company who employed the workers, Brawner Builders, has been cited three times for seven safety violations since 2018, including four citations for failing to provide proper fall protections. Foremen have stated that it is fairly common for construction companies to not provide safety skiffs and that regulations requiring their presence are often not enforced. 

The colossal accident exposes the dangerous work many immigrants are forced to take on in order to survive in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latine immigrants made up 8.2 percent of the employed U.S. workforce in 2021 but accounted for 14 percent of work-related deaths that year. Fatal injuries to this group were most prevalent in construction. Immigrant workers, especially undocumented immigrants, do much of the hardest labor with the lowest pay in the United States. The massive deportations executed by both capitalist parties are used to intimidate workers and to silence them from speaking up about their working conditions. The silence is then used to exploit those workers even more, paying them less than documented immigrant workers.

Further still, the U.S. infrastructure has been steadily underfunded over decades. Only $110 billion of $1.2 trillion total allocated by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act went to repairing roads and bridges. Transportation systems, bridges, and roadways have been collapsing. Meanwhile, Biden has continued to increase weapons deliveries to Israel, including $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets. —money that could be used to repair bridges and roads domestically is instead being used to blow up infrastructure and, worse, human beings, such as in the genocidal attacks in Palestine and all over the world. 

The priority of U.S. imperialism is destruction for geopolitical control and exploitation of the working class. The U.S. regime’s emphasis on “securing” the border with Mexico is to keep refugees in a state of fear. The working class around the world is under attack by its class enemies. Our struggles are united across borders. 

The crew of immigrant workers on the highway was not unionized. Union leaderships should be organizing immigrant workers, providing resources, and defending them against these attacks of a global trade regime that cuts corners to maximize profits. However, the current union leaderships, despite some progressive overtures, continue to tether their membership to the capitalist parties, specifically the Democratic Party, whose leaders continue to deport record numbers of migrants. Unions must take on the fight for safe infrastructure and working conditions for all workers, so human survival is prioritized over imperialist profits. 

Immigrant workers were killed in Baltimore because of crumbling infrastructure and lack of appropriate safety regulations in the richest country in the world. All workers internationally have a right to work safely, without the threat of death looming over them for imperialist profit motives. Workers in the U.S. and across the world must defend each other against violent borders. We must unite our struggles to fight for a world with safe, stable infrastructure and humane working conditions, and against the imperialist profit motives that stand to threaten us all.

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Julia Wallace

Julia is a contributor for Left Voice and has been a revolutionary socialist for over ten years. She served on the South Central Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles and is a member of SEIU Local 721. Julia organizes against police brutality and in defense of LGBTQ, women, and immigrants' rights. When she's not actively fighting the patriarchy, white supremacy and/or capitalism, she enjoys many things: she loves Thundercat, plays ultimate frisbee and is a founder of the team, "Black Lives Hammer."

K.S. Mehta

K.S. Mehta is a research assistant in New York City.

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