While we're on vacation, we're re-posting some of our past content. Kim Krisberg's series of posts on worker centers in Texas is well worth a second read (or a first read, or a third read ...):
Houston, we have a workers’ rights problem: Profile of a worker justice center in Texas’ biggest city
Last month, more than 70 ironworkers walked off an ExxonMobil construction site near Houston, Texas. The workers, known as rodbusters in the industry, weren’t members of a union or backed by powerful organizers; they decided amongst themselves to unite in protest of unsafe working conditions in a state that has the highest construction worker fatality rate in the country.
On the border of change: A portrait of the workers’ rights movement in El Paso
In the fall of 2011, a new Texas statute took effect against employers who engage in wage theft, putting in place real consequences for employers found guilty of stealing wages from workers. It was a big step forward in a state where wage theft has become as common as cowboy boots and pick-up trucks. It was especially good news for workers in El Paso, where wage theft has become so rampant that workers rights advocates have dubbed it an “epidemic.”
‘An issue that affects all of us’: Young workers center takes on wage theft in the Rio Grande Valley
For six months, Jorge Rubio worked at a local chain of tortilla bakeries and taquerias in the cities of Brownsville and San Benito, both in the very southern tip of Texas. Rubio, 42, prepared the food, cleaned equipment, served customers. Eventually, he decided to quit after being overworked for months. On his last day of work, his employer refused to pay him the usual $50 for an 11-hour workday.
A different kind of Texas-style justice: Two nights at Austin’s Workers Defense Project
It’s Tuesday evening and as usual, the small parking lot outside the Workers Defense Project on Austin’s eastside is packed. The dusty lot is strewn with cars and pick-up trucks parked wherever they can fit and get in off the road. I’ve arrived well before the night’s activities begin, so I easily secure a spot. But my gracious guide and translator, a college intern named Alan Garcia, warns me that I might get blocked in. It happens all the time, he says.