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Working on the Edge
Maybe it is due to social osmosis. But the trend is: bodegas belong to Dominicans, to Omanis or to Yemenis; Mexicans belong to restaurant kitchens while restaurateurs
are mostly Italians and Greeks. By the same token, car services are handled, for the most part, by Indus, Pakistanis, Ecuadorians and Africans.
But scaffolds mostly belong to the newest comers. Those who work on these temporary modules in order to make a living are recently-arrived immigrants from every country in the planet. You can see them standing way up in the sky. They are not birds, they are not planes. They are migrant workers seeking quick cash in exchange for a slight risk: falling while on duty.
And Long Island’s labor landscape is “on the rise”. These multicultural temporary frameworks are virtually everywhere. If we could speak of an ethnic labor democracy, the scaffolding plank holds the crown.
Conducting inspections and filing reports has become easier for both co-ops and condominiums. The five-year cycle, which ran from Feb. 21, 2005, to Feb. 21, 2010, set off inspections.
During last year and propelled by popular demand, condos and co-ops rushed to bid, setting the unprecedented trend. As a result, a team of engineers, architects, and contractors were busy making repairs, fixing façades, building defects or patching sidewalk sheds while their lowest rank of their crew, mostly immigrants, hang up the sky.
The New York City landscape is almost the same.
Wait. Did we say almost?
Most buildings look like adolescents wearing brackets. On the base plate are planks, on the planks one or two men stand, fixing a façade or cleaning a window with or without harnesses, with or without health insurance. They are Peter Pans but there is no ocean below; only the hard, cold concrete.
Ironically, the term “scaffolding” has recently been coined as a metaphor to describe the type of assistance offered by a teacher or peer to support learning. In the process of this ‘scaffolding,’ a teacher creates preliminary steps to help the student master a task or concept that the student is initially unable to grasp independently.
Maybe the real scaffolding is one worthy way to help those who have recently landed in America.