Just in time for Labor Day, the Workers Rights Board convened a hearing September 5 on the way that construction workers are treated in North Texas. They met in the Beckly Street Sub-Courthouse courtroom of Judge Luis Sepulveda from 10 AM to noon. Reverend Doctor Joerg Rieger opened the meeting after conducting a few interviews with local newspersons. First on the agenda was a report from Reverend Doctor Isabel DoCampo about the Board's earlier work.
Next came testimony from two Latino workers who are striking against Great Western Erectors, a giant corporation that sub-contracts certain aspects of major construction jobs and has its national headquarters in Dallas. One of them offered, "Every day, people get injured. And sometimes they don't even say anything to the foreman because they are afraid to get fired!"
Organizers from the national Iron Workers Union gave facts and statistics about the sorry conditions that local construction workers suffer.
Dr Rieger told the group, "This is a pandemic issue... affecting all workers in North Texas, and workers in general."
Hearing the testimony were some of the leading community and religious leaders who make up the Workers Rights Board. They asked questions and made suggestions as to how to improve working conditions and further the work of the Board.
Kim Batchelor, Coordinator of the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance, opened the subject to scrutiny from a religious viewpoint. Reverend Ed Middleton then commented that religious leaders had developed bad habits in the way that they view workers' problems: "We end up not addressing the systemic causes of poverty!"
Dr. Suzanne Johnson of the Perkins Theological School at SMU averred, "The main language of the scripture is not service, it is justice!"
Members of the group made a number of suggestions, such as:
The group of 25 participants was invited to participate in more activities, including the AFL-CIO Labor Day Breakfast on Monday, the Jobs with Justice planning meeting on Wednesday, the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance health care meeting on September 13, and a special meeting on September 25 to launch a new national fight for economic justice for workers.