This one is hard to believe. In Austin and Dallas, Texas, ordinances had mandated 10-minute breaks for construction workers every four hours. These workers, 60 percent of whom are Latino, mostly work outdoors, often in blistering Texas heat. The 10-minute breaks allow them to rest, drink water their bodies have lost, and generally take a brief respite from the heat. A simple act of humanity, yes?
But the Republican state legislature and Republican Governor Greg Abbott say no! According to them, it is just another one of those “hodgepodge of onerous and burdensome regulations” on Texas businesses. A measure passed by the legislature and recently signed into law by Abbott, to take effect in September, nullifies the Austin and Dallas ordinances and prevents any other local governments from passing similar protections for workers.
Days later, a 35-year-old utility lineman who was working in 100-degree temperature to restore power in Marshall, Texas, died of heat exhaustion. Unions and civil rights groups have been enraged by the new law, warning that it will cause more heat-related deaths and illnesses in a state that already tallies the highest number of worker deaths due to high temperatures.
“In the midst of a record-setting heatwave, I could not think of a worse time for this governor or any elected official who has any, any, kind of compassion, to do this,” said David Cruz, the communications director for League of United Latin American Citizens National (Lulac), a Latino civil rights group. “This administration is incrementally trying to move us backwards into a dark time in this nation when plantation owners and agrarian mentalities prevailed.”
A simple question could be asked of Abbott and the Texas lawmakers: “Are you guys human?’