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I recently joined hundreds of Texans in a “Day of the Fallen” protest. Leading our march to the State Capitol were people bearing 138 black coffins.
This was not a war protest, not in the sense of a shooting war – but it was a protest about the senseless casualties in America’s relentless class war. The caskets symbolized the 138 Texas construction workers who died on the job in 2009. This is a national issue, but my state (hailed by our governor as “business friendly”) is number one in the nation in the business of killing and maiming those who dig our trenches, erect our condos, wire our office buildings, roof our houses, and otherwise put themselves on the line to construct and maintain a modern city.
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Another construction worker dies every two and a half days in Texas. Needlessly. Here and elsewhere around the country, corporate chieftains and political leaders simply avert their eyes from this routine mayhem – you never find a CEO or governor at the funerals. And since they will themselves to not see the problems, they do nothing to fix them. In Texas, builders and contractors are not even required to provide basic safety training and equipment, carry workers compensation insurance, or allow rest breaks.
Working 8 to 12 hours or more a day in 100 degree heat is inherently dangerous, and with no precautions or breaks, injuries and deaths are inevitable. Bear in mind that these corporations are profitable – they certainly can afford to give workers a couple of 10-minute breaks in an 8-hour shift.
Imagine the urgent cry for reform if construction company CEOs were being killed at the rate of one every two and a half days! It’s time to put some ethics back in the work ethic. To help, contact the National Organization of Injured Workers: www.noiw.org.
Workers Defense Project, www.buildtexas.org