Save-a-buck contractors expose unskilled workers to asbestos

DETROIT — Contractors are using immigrants, ex-cons, homeless people and teenagers to remove material containing asbestos from aging buildings, according to a Detroit Free Press report.

Experts say documenting the extent of the problem is difficult because workers may be afraid to complain, may not know who to call or don’t speak English.

Dan Somenauer, business manager of Taylor-based Abatement Workers Regional Local 207, says some of his members said before joining the union they worked for companies that paid substandard wages and hired homeless workers.

Craig Gestring, an assistant U.S. attorney in Rochester, New York, says he has prosecuted several cases that involved workers who were “unskilled” and “unknowledgeable” and “it’s always done to save a buck.”

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