Revolutionary Transit Worker No. 54 – Supplement
Supported by the League for the Revolutionary Party
May 5, 2012
No Justice for Workers Killed by Crane Collapse
by Seth Rosenberg, Train Operator, TWU Local 100
Workers in New York City should be outraged at the acquittal of construction boss James Lomma. By refusing to spend the time and money to repair one of his cranes properly, he caused a collapse in May 2008 and the death of two workers, Donald C. Leo, 30, the crane operator, and Ramadan Kurtaj, 27, a sewer employee who was working on the ground. This verdict shows yet again that workers can have no faith in justice from the government and its courts, whose real function is to protect the capitalists and their interests.
Lomma stole the life of these two men just two months after a previous crane collapse in the Upper East Side of Manhattan killed seven. Lomma’s crane had recently undergone repairs to its turntable, a crucial component. Lomma had got estimates from well-established companies but said that they would take too much time and money (the crane rents out for $50K/month). So he knowingly went with a little-known company he found on the internet who would do it quickly and cheaply – even after the company said it wasn’t sure it could do the job properly!
The repair didn’t even meet the requirements of city inspectors. Lomma’s own assistant and mechanic, Tibor Varganyi, deeply involved in the repair decision, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and testified that Lomma had specifically refused to use the established companies for the sake of profit and told Varganyi to choose the cheap and quick route. Lomma’s attorneys had the gall to blame the incident on Leo, who couldn’t defend himself from the grave!
The case went to trial, but workers and their families rarely get justice in the capitalist courts. Lomma, like killer cops, decided to let a judge hear the case: a jury would have been much more likely to punish this boss and his total disregard for the safety of his employees and passers-by. Judges, on the other hand, tend to side with the status quo and the powerful.
On April 26th, State Supreme Court Justice Daniel P. Conviser ruled in favor Lomma, giving no explanation for his verdict. Conviser is not some far-right Republican lawyer who hobnobs only with the rich. He is a Democratic Party hack from the Bronx, appointed to the bench by Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007, having previously served as counsel to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. But the Democrats, who sometimes pretend to be friends and allies of the working class, are also a party committed to the capitalist system and the capitalists.
Marxists understand the nature of the capitalist state: its institutions work in the interests of the capitalists in their never-ending war to exploit and oppress the working class. The bosses and their courts throw the full force of the law against workers who they say break the law – just look at how the cops and the justice system go after union workers and leaders who strike or form picket lines. TWU President Roger Toussaint spent more time in jail for the 2005 strike than Lomma ever will for causing the death of two people.
The laws are written so that it is almost impossible to find capitalists guilty for the people they kill by their decisions based solely on profit. The financiers and other capitalists who triggered the global financial meltdown of 2008 got bailed out with trillions of dollars – and not a single one was even indicted for the criminal fraud they were blatantly guilty of.
This case can serve to remind workers that our lives have little value to the capitalists and their system. They use us, exploit us, and kill us if necessary. They throw us away and replace us with others. We are just cogs in their profit-making machine. No laws passed or politicians elected will change this truth for as long as capitalism exists. That’s why the League for the Revolutionary Party fights for socialist revolution: a workers’ revolution where those who produce all the value in this world join together and overthrow the murderous leeches who profit from our labor. We want to join with other workers looking to form a revolutionary party of the working class – to organize our class and prepare the struggle to get rid of killer bosses and the entire murderous system of capitalism.