SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A local union concerned about the health and safety of employees working inside the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield is fighting to get a new courthouse for the city.
22News was there as a demonstration was held outside the Roderick Ireland Courthouse, fighting for a new building. The OPEIU Local 6 called on the Trial Court to evacuate the courthouse because of the unsafe conditions that have continued for years.
Elected officials and community leaders for months have called for the existing courthouse to be shut down entirely and replaced, because of reported issues such as sewage leaks and air quality concerns within its walls.
“People are frightened, people are scared. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t get a call from scared workers saying they are afraid of being sick. They have respiratory problems, they have migraines and they get a way from the courthouse either remote work or taking some time off and they go away.” George Noel, Business Manager, OPEIU Local 6
Susan Laviolatte has worked inside the building for almost 30 years. Recently, she and other co-workers have moved out and now work in the old state building. “We’ve had numerous people die from cancer and throughout the building. I think this should be of real interest to the state to close this building because it is unhealthy to work here.” Susan Laviolatte of Springfield
Attorneys have said an independent study showed toxic, cancer-causing mold inside the building. Mold issues shut the courthouse down for weeks last year.
Congressman Richard Neal says the concerns are real and the evidence speaks for itself. “They are right to be concerned about the courthouse. I think that the stories that have come out in the last two years, are not only about the health hazards that present itself for the employees of the courthouse but you’re also talking about evidence that has potentially been damaged.”
Governor Charlie Baker last month said he was concerned about the courthouse but has not called for its closure. The lawsuit involving the Trial Court is set to be heard by the supreme judicial court on April 27.