Volume 20, Number 48 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 24 - 30, 2010
Downtown Express photo by Aline Reynolds
Antonio Rodrigues, Jr. (left) chats with his uncle and boss, Antonio Rodrigues, Sr.
W.T.C. workers’ first Thanksgiving on site
BY Aline Reynolds
Five hundred World Trade Center construction workers lined up for turkey subs, angus hamburgers and hot dogs last Friday afternoon during a break from work.
The feast, held on the ground floor of 4 W.T.C., was a pre-Thanksgiving dinner provided by W.T.C. developer Larry Silverstein.
The food was supplied by Big Daddies caterers based in Massapequa, Long Island. “Even to help a little, to make their day go easier, brings satisfaction to my day,” said Jordan Signorelli, who was busy flipping burgers on the grill before the workers arrived.
Three large turkey submarines were laid out on the adjacent buffet table, waiting to be devoured.
“You can see advancement [on the W.T.C.] over the last few months,” said Tom Kurtz, who served lunch to a different group of W.T.C. workers in early September.
Silverstein made a brief appearance at the site while the ravenous workers scarfed down the food to thank the tradesmen and women for their hard work. “You went back onto the site [after 9/11], and did rescue and recovery, without regard for your own safety and your own well-being,” Silverstein said.
He praised the workers for the completion of 7 W.T.C. in 2006, saying that 4 W.T.C. must be handled with the same perseverance and hard work. “By the end of 2013, you guys and gals are going to have this place finished,” he said. “Only with your help can it happen, and only with your determination will it happen.”
But the project was the last thing on the workers’ minds during their much-needed break. “It’s time for putting work aside, for everyone to come together and say, ‘let’s break bread as a unit,’” said Tishman Project Superintendent Frank Hussey, one of the original workers of the W.T.C. redevelopment. “We’re all brothers and sisters at the end of the day.”
Interspersed throughout the male-dominated crowd were actual fathers, sons and nephews that were enjoying a pre-Thanksgiving family meal together.
The Rodrigues clan
Nine members of the Rodrigues clan sat together at one of the rectangular white-cloth tables on the street-level concrete base of 4 W.T.C.
They all work for Roger and Sons Concrete Corporation, a small family business that Portuguese immigrant Acacio Rodrigues founded in the 1970s. One-hundred-and-fifty of their men and women are erecting the concrete walls of the site, forming the skeleton of the tower, according to Acacio’s grandson, 34-year-old Antonio A. Rodrigues.
Rodrigues’s grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Portugal in 1954. “Once his sons were done with schooling, he got into business with them, and it just started growing and growing and growing,” said Rodrigues, now the general superintendent of the company.
Rodrigues, Sr. died a proud grandfather in 2009, two months after his company was hired for its largest project to date at the W.T.C.
Rdorigues, Jr.’s uncle and president of the company, Antonio Rodrigues, said the project will certainly be a feather in the company’s cap. “I had goose bumps, being on a site like this,” he said. “It’s an amazing amount of people around every day… so you know you’re part of something big.”
The family members are all working towards the same goal: completing the skeleton of the 975-foot construction tower by mid-2012.
Working with colleagues as a closely-knit team, Rodrigues, Jr., will be the key to getting the job done. “Nine of us can’t put this building up,” he said. “We need the various trades and workers, and as long as we’re employing people, we know their lives are better on the backside.”
Munoz and Rivera
Construction worker 28-year-old Joshua Rivera’s father, 45-year-old Frank Munoz, is also his direct supervisor. They work alongside each other six days a week, ten hours a day at 4 W.T.C.
Rivera and Munoz know when to stay away from each other, particularly when they’re frustrated about something. But they usually chat on work breaks about their daily grinds, and about the family. “I get to find out more about my grandson,” Munoz said, chuckling.
Munoz admitted that he egged on his son to choose this construction project over others. He keeps a close eye on Rivera to make sure he’s up to snuff. “You want your reputation to go a lot longer,” Munoz said.
Rivera doesn’t seem to mind working for his dad. “You work harder when you work for your pop. His name follows you,” Rivera said. “There’s more motivation to keep everything going.”