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Arnold M. Knightly

Union says workers not being rushed

19 June 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Construction workers are not being hurried at Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Echelon project site, where a carpenter died in an accident Monday, a union official said Tuesday.

"Everyone is doing everything they can safety-wise," said Marc Furman, senior administrative assistant for the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters.

He said Boyd officials and contractors on the Echelon project are not pushing workers to meet deadlines as some construction workers have said is happening at other Strip construction projects.

A worker wearing an Ironworkers Local 433 shirt said Monday after a carpenter was killed at the 87-acre construction site that "they push us hard to meet deadlines."

However, Furman said, "Nobody is speeding up anything here."

"People keep looking for some kind of cause and effect. Compared to what is going on at CityCenter, here is a less-complicated project because it is early on, less activity."

About 800 workers are on the Echelon site pouring concrete and laying steel, according to Boyd spokesman Rob Stillwell.

Furman said contractors have had trouble attracting all the workers they want, because overtime is not available on the Echelon project, unlike at other Strip projects.

"At the Echelon, they've had crews walk off saying they can go to other projects and make a lot more money because of no overtime," he said.

The site for the $4.8 billion Echelon project operates six days a week in two shifts. The number of workers on the site will not increase significantly until late spring 2009, when specialized workers arrive to begin filling in the buildings.

By contrast, the $9.2 billion CityCenter site, where six workers have died since April 2007, runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week with crews ranging from 600 to 6,000 at any given time.

Lyndall Bates, a 49-year-old carpenter from Tempe, Ariz., was the first worker to die at the 87-acre Echelon since the project broke ground last June. He died early Monday after falling about 15 feet while dissassembling scaffolding and landing on his head.

Work on the $4.8 billion Echelon project was shut down for 24 hours after the accident for a safety review but resumed Tuesday morning, Stillwell said. He wouldn't comment further because of the ongoing investigation by Nevada Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Bates was a member of carpenter's Union 1780 and had three adult children in Las Vegas.