The cost of Building Austin: construction workers, mostly Latinos, are literally dying on the job.

Author:Cardenas, Lourdes
 
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CONSTRUCTION HAS BECOME one of the most unsafe, unfair and dangerous jobs in Texas, according to a recent report released by the Workers Defense Project, which found that a construction worker was killed on the job every two and a half days in the state in 2007.

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"Seventy percent of the construction workers in Austin are immigrants that don't speak English," said Cristina Tzinlzun, project director at the Workers Defense Project, which advocates for Austin's low-wage workers. She added: "When the population is immigrant, the politicians don't have the same interest to protect them as if they were U.S. citizens or white people."

In 2007, 142 construction workers died in Texas, more than any other state in the country, according to the study "Building Austin, Building Injustice." Total fatalities in the construction sector in the U.S. for the same year were 1,204.

The study, which was done in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Illinois at Chicago, showed that while the industry plays a vital role in the economy of cities like Austin, most of the jobs in the construction sector violate federal and state employment regulations. Besides that, Texas construction workers earn two to three dollars less per hour than their counterparts in other states who perform the same skilled work.

"Texas is an anti-workers rights and a pro-business state," said Tzintzun. "Unlike any other state, in Texas we don't have OSHA state offices; neither do we have some basic workers rights like the right to have a day off when it is 100 degrees outside."

In addition to that, Tzintzun said, Texas is under the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision on...

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