Published: May 18, 1983
Publication: The New York Times
By Laurie Johnson and Susan Heller Anderson
W hen Mario Montuoro, a Bronx construction worker forced from his job as a union official, won $2.5 million in the New York State Lottery last year, he vowed to use part of the money to assist unionists fighting corruption.
The Fund for Labor Defense, which he set up in Manhattan, made its first grant yesterday – $500 to William Pensyl, dismissed last August from the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant for refusing to work without a respirator.
Mr. Pensyl’s job was to undress men emerging from the reactor building in their head-to-toe overalls. Until late August, Mr. Pensyl said, he was provided with a respirator, which reduced the amount of radioactive particles he might inhale.
”Then the project supervisor told us we would perform our jobs without respirators,” Mr. Pensyl said. He added that the amount of radiation without respirators was below the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s minimum safety levels, so legally the company did not have to provide them.
Mr. Pensyl is suing Catalytic Inc., a subcontractor of the Bechtel Corporation, charged with the Three Mile Island cleanup. His attorney, Arthur Z. Schwartz, said, ”Our position is that a worker has the right to conditions safer than the Federal minimums, if it’s reasonable.”