Members of the Reagan High School band stopped rush hour traffic yesterday in front of the federal building in Austin, Texas, along with hundreds of advocates, community leaders, families and construction workers, as they celebrated the Workers Defense Project’s (WDP's) biannual Day of the Fallen.
According to Cristina Tzintzun of WDP, Texas is the most deadly place for construction workers, with 100 deaths on the job last year and 138 deaths the year before. Members continue to tirelessly lobby for better safety requirements for construction workers and more safety inspectors to monitor worksites before accidents happen. Advocates are counting on the Texas House and Senate to do more this legislative session to protect workers on job sites across the state. Furthermore, participants of the Day of the Fallen are hoping to raise standard regulations across the board. “When we’re paying for this much safety to keep our men alive, we can’t compete with people who don’t. So we’re losing jobs to people who are putting their workers in jeopardy,” said KST electrician Michael King to KVUE Texas.
Philip Lawhon, a development organizer with Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 520, agrees:
Our contractors through the union are with very safety conscious companies, but it’s hard for companies that invest so much in safety to compete against those who don’t. It’s hard for them to remain competitive though they’re doing the right thing. Furthermore, when we’re on jobs with those who don’t have safety conscious contractors, we’re at risk, because we’re being exposed to an untrained workforce. That alone can increase the risk for everyone and adds to why the construction industry in Texas is one of the deadliest.
Ultimately, with their march to the Texas state Capitol, advocates for construction safety plan to raise awareness of an issue that should be important to all people. “I just think it’s a human rights issue, and it’s just important for everybody,” rally participant Gwen Cubit told KVUE Texas. “Everybody should get fair treatment fair pay across the board.”
The WDP and other allies also met with Texas state legislators to relay their concerns about worker safety along with the rally.