Construction worker

[en Español]

On a sweltering day two summers ago, Roendy Granillo was at work, installing floors in a house near Dallas, Texas, when he started to feel ill. He asked for a break but he was unable to take one. That afternoon, he collapsed.

Ramirez: “When he got to the hospital it was just too late. His body temperature was 109 degrees.”

That’s Diana Ramirez of the nonprofit Workers Defense Project. She says after this tragedy, the Dallas City Council passed an ordinance that her group had spent a year-and-a-half fighting for. It mandates a ten-minute break for every four hours of construction work.

That may not sound like much, but it’s more than many workers got before. Five years ago, the Workers Defense Project surveyed over a thousand Texas construction workers. More than a third said they were not given breaks at all, and over half said their employers did not provide water.

As global warming causes more extreme heat waves, protecting workers is critical. Ramirez continues to fight for their rights.

Ramirez: “Hearing workers say ‘oh yeah, you know I wasn’t getting a break but now I am.’ It just feeds my fire to keep fighting for better working conditions for workers here in Texas.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Eileen Mignoni is a South Florida-based visual journalist who has been working on stories about science, the environment, and energy for nearly 10 years. In addition to her work at Yale Climate Connections,...