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Union workers protest Goodfellow Federal Complex contamination

MARK TWAIN – Frustrated union workers plan to rally Thursday afternoon in front of the Goodfellow Federal Center complex, 4300 Goodfellow Boulevard, which they say has been contaminated with more than 80 hazardous substances since 2002.

Subsequent investigations, including an audit in March of this year, have repeatedly came up with the same findings by the Office of the Inspector General, confirming the conditions.

The American Federal Government Employees union says the General Services Administration hasn’t done enough to protect the workers and others who visit the former Army small arms munitions site.

Sheila Stovall-Harrison, union rep for AFGE Local 3354, said GSA needed to be put on blast for its inactions.

“We really want to draw attention to this — it’s scary,” Stovall-Harrison said.

In 2016, OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) performed an external audit that again confirmed the contamination, putting GSA on notice about the “unsafe working conditions,” prompting the administration to conduct remediation to remove asbestos and lead.

But several other health hazards remain, according to the union.

“This is so ridiculous — we need to be moved out of here,” Sheila Stovall-Harrison said.

“People are sick and people have died,” she said.

The union had first considered a class action lawsuit but is now leaning toward having workers file individual workers’ compensation cases.

Michael Kelly, national vice president (AFGE 9), recently penned his concerns in a letter to Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., of the 1st District. Clay is a senior member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, which has major investigative responsibilities for the operation of the federal government.

In the letter, Kelly wrote:

“Management is currently asking federal employees to trust their health and well being to agencies who have violated the basic right to work in a safe environment since 2002.”

Kelly added that without the OSHA and OIG investigations, “GSA would still knowingly be exposing employees to toxic contamination at the Goodfellow Center with no one the wiser. Even after GSA’s inadequacies were brought to light in 2016, they continued to misrepresent the dangers.”

Stovall-Harrison said she was at least expecting a congressional hearing.

Bill Beene Bill Beene was born and raised in north St. Louis. He has been a journalist for 12 years. He enjoys cooking and roller skating. He lives in the historic Ville neighborhood.

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