Super Exploitation Kills Workers in Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse

Originally published in Labor Today

Early on the morning of March 26, 2024, a ship named Dali collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, causing a full bridge collapse. Construction workers employed by Brawner Builders were on site repairing masonry and potholes before the bridge fell 185 feet into the Patapsco River. Two were recovered by emergency responders, six more were unable to be located and presumed dead by the crew after searching for hours. While responders were able to evacuate most cars from the bridge before the collision, it is still unclear how many were driving at the time the 985 foot freighter collided. Of the six lives lost were Miguel Luna, a Maryland local and long-time member of CASA, Carlos Suazo and Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval of Honduras, and others from Mexico and Guatemala respectively. They were not warned of a mayday call before the collision.

The Dali was reportedly a ship with a history of problems spanning back almost nine years. The ship had 27 inspections since 2015 and even just last year had been reported to have an issue with gauges and thermometers at an inspection in Chile. In Chile, the ship was cited for having issues with its propulsion system, but was not flagged as unseaworthy. The company that holds responsibility for the ship, Grace Ocean Investment, was said to have violated maritime and labor laws, keeping members of the crew beyond their contract term unpaid as well as withholding pay.

The chartering company, Maersk, had been sanctioned by the US Labor Department in July 2023 for its policy towards whistleblowing which stated that workers should contact the company first before approaching Coast Guard authorities or others. Federal officials concluded that Maersk violated the Seaman’s Protection Act and ordered them to pay $700,000 in damages as well as reinstate the employee who had been fired.

LUEL condemns the super exploitation by both Grace Ocean Investment and Maersk that killed the bridge workers. We also offer our condolences to the families and coworkers of the murdered workers.