Exclusive: Despite the hype, employees describe miserable working conditions at TPA
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 23rd March 2019
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Bay foundation: Sparrows Point off-shore contamination. (Photo credit/The Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Post has been in contact with workers at Tradepoint Atlantic who describe a much different picture than the rose-colored portrait painted by politicians.

As you know, our pols are hellbent on promoting this corporate/political welfare boondoggle through a bipartisan effort that starts at the federal level and continues through the state and local governments.

As the above photo illustrates, more than 162 years of pollution on land and in the Chesapeake Bay didn’t just disappear in the relatively short time that TPA purchased the former steel plant.

Workers described clouds of dust so thick during windy conditions they can hardly see. One employee complained that the dirt is filled with the same greenish-gold contaminants as seen during the booming years of steel production at Bethlehem Steel.

Anyone who has visited the TPA property can easily pick out the vehicles belonging to the workers. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the color of the vehicles due to the various materials that cover their surface.

We received an especially troubling report from a worker that seemed to trump what Councilman Todd Crandell recently boasted about: TPA will employ 20,000 workers when built out at the cost of $2 billion. The worker discussed a company that, according to other media outlets, stated there were 100 new jobs.

We were told that only four of the 100 jobs promised by that company are permanent positions, while the rest are filled by temporary workers hired by various agencies. Many of the temporary workers come from Baltimore City, across the Key Bridge, while the rest come from Baltimore County and other areas.

One worker said the turnover rates are very high, which follows the formula of cheap land plus cheap labor equalling big profits.

Remember the MTA bus route leading from Baltimore City directly to the TPA property? Those buses are running every 15 minutes around-the-clock.

Speaking of the Key Bridge, we asked another worker about shipping inside TPA property. We were told the only things coming or going are large vessels carrying metal from the old steel mill that will be sold in other markets. It has been reported that TPA has made over $300 million by scrapping and selling what remained of the former steel plant.

Yet they need our tax dollars, folks.

When asked about the Amazon facility and the announced 1,000 jobs provided by the mega-company, another worker disputed those claims. The worker said the parking lot of the Amazon building never has more than 50 cars parked at one time. That would make sense since everything in the facility is automated.

As always, The Baltimore Post decided to check out this claim. Here is what we found:

Additionally, conditions inside many of Amazon work centers are not ideal for workers. Stories abound about employees not being allowed to take bathroom or water breaks. That, of course, would curtail the output of goods being handled by the corporate giant. These working conditions led to what The Daily Beast described as a Colony of Hell in which 911 calls were made about workers either threatening to commit suicide or already having committed suicide inside these giant warehouses.

Now let’s focus on the health and safety of the workers inside the TPA compound.

The greenish colored dust covering vehicles makes it difficult to see during windy conditions. This isn’t spring pollen, either–the awful dust storms happened during winter when large amounts of earth were being moved from one area of the property to another. The worker did acknowledge that TPA made efforts to keep the dust down by spraying the area with water, but that method often failed.

These workers are concerned for their health, and we can’t blame them.

That dust traveled as far as the Fort Howard community, and–as the Post reported–that community association held a meeting regarding the potential airborne contaminants and asked for samples to be taken by MDE.

Another worker describedTPA workers haphazardly operating trains on the property and not sounding train whistles 200 feet before intersections. One worker described several near accidents with tractor-trailers leaving the property because the trains were not following the required safety guidelines.

The Post pressed to get information on the proposed UA logistical operation within a 1.5 million square foot building. We were told that there did not seem to be a lot of activity in that area, with no signs of anyone providing the sports apparel company with the equipment needed to support such an operation.

Any readers who want to reference our past columns should take advantage of our search feature in the upper right corner of our page. Search for either TPA or Tradepoint Atlantic to access the dozens of stories we have published about this corporate cronyism and welfare issue.

Finally, The Baltimore Post has made numerous attempts to contact officials at TPA, Councilman Crandell, and other political leaders about the information we received. As usual, we never received a response to any of our questions.

Hopefully, exposing the truth behind the façade of this taxpayer-funded corporate welfare boondoggle will lead to our precious tax dollars being spent on issues that impact our lives rather than ingratiate the bottom line for billionaire businessmen.