Rally and vigil organized to put pressure on developer Noah Properties to improve safety after fatal fall of worker in December 2020

Religious and union leaders have called for safer working conditions in a Northwest Side development where a bricklayer was fatally injured last year.

Yaroslav Zhuk fell while working on a luxury rental development under construction by Noah Properties in December 2020. He was hospitalized and died on January 4, 2021.

Arise Chicago held a vigil in front of the completed development at 4214 W. Belmont Ave. on Tuesday to honor Zhuk’s work and urge Noah Properties to better protect workers.

“Yaroslav Zhuk, a 55-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, died a year ago today while working on the construction of the building behind us, where basic safety equipment and protections were not provided.” , said Rev. CJ Hawking, Executive Director. by Arise Chicago. “Sir. Zhuk didn’t even have a hard hat.”

Dozens of unionized workers held signs demanding safe working conditions. “Workers deserve tomorrow” was the slogan on a sign. A violinist performed solemnly in remembrance of Zhuk’s life.

Reverend CJ Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago, was among those speaking at a vigil and press conference outside the luxury Avondale residences in the Kilbourn Park neighborhood on Tuesday morning January 4, 2022, where construction workers Yaroslav Zhuk suffered fatal injuries in a fall while laying bricks during the construction of the building a year ago.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

“As religious leaders, we are here to mourn the life of Mr. Zhuk and to make sure it does not happen to other workers again,” said Rev. Robert Jones of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Missionary Church. . “We are calling on this company, Noah Properties, to provide a safe job site. As religious leaders, we call on all employers to honor the precious lives of their workers. “

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined Zhuk died after accidentally falling 40 feet head first into a dumpster.

According to an inspection report from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Zhuk was performing “overhanging masonry” and standing on scaffolding that did not have proper guardrails along the open sides. or at the ends.

The report also states: “The danger was in full view throughout the day, both inside and outside the construction site. “

OSHA also determined that there were no “adequate means of fall protection” and the employer did not notify the agency of Zhuk’s death.

Ultimately, the incident led to a fine of $ 10,000.

In a written statement, Bart Przyjemski, Founder and CEO of Noah Properties, said his company, like “any other developer in Illinois, hires contractors and we rely on them to have proper training and support. ” equipment in complete safety. … Unfortunately horrible accidents sometimes happen, beyond our control.

Przyjemski said he believed the vigil was really meant to pressure his company to hire unionized workers. This ongoing pressure campaign, he said, has led to constant harassment and “is a very sad and counterproductive way to win our business.”

Don Villar, secretary-treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, lambasted Noah Properties for failing to “do the right thing” and for taking responsibility for Zhuk’s “preventable” death.

The labor federation has a stake in the Sun-Times media.

“In the meantime, Noah Properties is building all of these buildings like nothing has happened,” Villar said. “Like [Zhuk] death doesn’t matter, but it does. It is important for all of us in the labor movement. It should be important for all workers in this town when a worker dies, when the death could have been avoided, and the business continues on its way and continues to profit from it.

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