FRIDAY NOVEMBER 14, 10 AM — On Wednesday, November 12 New Yorkers watched with bated breath as two window cleaners, 32BJ members Juan Lizama and Juan Lopez, were rescued at One World Trade Center. Both men were safely returned home to their families because they properly followed their training and thanks to a rescue effort led by members of the FDNY who cut a hole in a window off the 68th floor of the building in order to retrieve the men.
“Our training kicked in immediately. We were scared for a few minutes but once we had stabilized ourselves we knew we would be ok and someone would come to rescue us,” said Juan Lizama, a 14 year window cleaner who lives in the Bronx.
32BJ SEIU represents 70,000 building service workers including about 600 window cleaners in New York City. As members of the union Lizama and Lopez went through the 32BJ Window Cleaner Apprenticeship Program,, a rigorous 18-month training series with a focus on safety. The program is the only accredited training in the country. In an emergency situation, split second decisions are easier to make after extensive practice and training.
“The safety of our members is of paramount importance for our union. That is why we make sure that a rigorous safety protocol is followed on the job and that workers are offered the training they need to be safe every day and in the event of an accident,” said 32BJ President Héctor Figueroa. “We also can’t forget to thank the FDNY, the EMTs and everyone who was involved in their rescue.”
Juan Lizama is 41-years-old and lives with his wife and children in New Jersey. Juan Lopez is 33-years-old lives with his partner and children in the Bronx and has been working as a window cleaner for five years. Window cleaning can be a dangerous job but New York City has some of the strongest safety laws in the country to protect these workers. As union members window cleaners make more than $26 an hour, have family health benefits and steady work.
32BJ Photos of Juan Lizama and Juan Lopez:
32BJ SEIU represents 70,000 building service workers including about 600 window cleaners in New York City.