Friday, July 25, 2003

NY Councilman, Workplace Violence Foe Shot Introducing Workplace Violence Resolution

Lee Clarke, Safety and Health Director of AFSCME District Council 37, went down to City Hall Wednesday intending to watch Councilmember James E. Davis introduce a City Council resolution urging the New York State Labor Department to adopt a set of regulations to protect public employees from violence in the workplace. "We were working with him on the anti-workplace violence resolution and I wanted to be there when he introduced it"

Instead, Clarke watched as Davis was shot and killed in the Council chambers, making him the latest victim in a epidemic of workplace violence affecting public-sector workers in New York State.

Davis's resolution read:
Public-sector workers of the City of New York continue to be the victims of crime in the workplace, including murder, rape, assault, verbal abuse and harassment,” the resolution said. “Because of hazardous working conditions and the absence of any systematic method for removing these dangers, workers and their families continue to suffer as a result of unnecessary and preventable incidents of violence at work.”
According to a statement released by NYCOSH, the New York Committee on Occupational Safety and Health,
“Yesterday’s shooting is a tragic example of what we are working to end,” said William F. Henning, Jr., the chair of NYCOSH’s Board of Directors. “Public-sector workers and unions are calling for a regulation that would require state and local government employers to establish and adhere to policies, procedures and practices for preventing, reporting, and responding to violence in the workplace.”
Clarke observed that
When the shooting started, the Council chamber was filled with people who were at work, all of whom were in danger of being hurt or killed. I can’t imagine a clearer example of exactly the kind of thing we are trying to prevent. The councilman grasped the right of people to a safe workplace and he was willing to spearhead the City Council’s effort to ask the state for a standard to protect workers. He will be sorely missed.
The resolution was supported by an ad hoc anti-workplace violence coalition of public-sector unions in New York City, including the New York State AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 37, Public Employees Federation, Civil Service Employees Association, United Federation of Teachers, Transport Workers Union Local 100, Communications Workers of American District 1, Professional Staff Congress, New York State United Teachers, and New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH).

According to the New York Times,
investigators said the killing appeared to stem from a simmering political dispute between Councilman Davis of Brooklyn, and the gunman, Othniel Askew who had planned to challenge Mr. Davis this fall for his seat representing central Brooklyn in the Council.

Mr. Askew was apparently able to slip his gun into City Hall by accompanying the councilman, who did not have to pass through metal detectors, officials said.
Most of this article was taken from a NYCOSH Press Statement.