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Booze photos spark firings

Two more union workers have been fired from CityCenter after being identified in photographs as drinking alcohol and entering the construction site, the project’s general contractor said Tuesday.

The two electricians, including a union steward, were fired late last week.

They had been photographed by the Review-Journal after the newspaper received reports from readers who said they had observed construction workers drinking at nearby bars and outside Strip construction sites.

Five union workers — including three ironworkers who were fired on Aug. 7 — have been fired by Perini Building Co., the general contractor on MGM Mirage’s $9.2 billion development, after being photographed drinking and then entering the CityCenter job site in violation of rules set by the unions and contractors.

The names of the workers have not been released.

Over a six-week period, 10 workers were observed at bars across from the development drinking before entering the job site. On Aug. 5, photos of eight of the men were shown to Perini and MGM Mirage officials.

Calls seeking comment from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 357 about the latest dismissals were not returned by press time.

The Review-Journal story is prompting action from government officials, too.

County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani last week said she plans to ask the various construction unions and contractors what standards are in place to regulate alcohol and drug use on job sites.

“We should at least find out what the standard is and what is acceptable and not acceptable,” she said last week.

Giunchigliani is chairwoman of an eight-person committee of lawmakers and industry veterans who are looking at possible legislation to tighten construction safety standards that may be considered in Carson City next year.

The committee, which was set up in the wake of 12 construction worker deaths along the Strip in the past 19 months, first met in late June. The committee meets next month, but a date has not yet been set.

Doug Mure, Perini Corp.’s vice president of human resources and risk management, said in a statement that the company continues to investigate the Review-Journal report.

Giunchigliani said she is interested in what language unions have negotiated into their collective bargaining agreements regarding alcohol and drug testing.

Also, she said she wants to know what policies contractors have and what their safety plans do to remind workers that they will be terminated for drinking.

According to the most recent four-year labor agreement between contractors and United Association Union Local 525, which is composed of plumbers and pipe fitters on the CityCenter project, workers are prohibited from “having present in their bodies during working hours detectable levels of drugs or alcohol over the nationally recognized standard.”

The agreement, which can vary by union, allows for workers to be tested before they hired and if they are involved in an accident. They can also be tested once a year around their birthdays, according to the agreement.

However, the union’s language allowing random testing when there is “reasonable suspicion” a worker is under the influence of drugs does not mention alcohol.

Giunchigliani, who was surprised to read about workers drinking and returning to the job site, said workers need to think beyond themselves before engaging in such activity.

“What people have to remember is that you endanger your peers and co-workers,” she said. “Even if you’re choosing to be stupid, it’s not just you.”

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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