by Scott Braddock on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 3:20pm 2 comments
A Houston construction worker was threatened at gunpoint by his employer last Friday because he simply asked to be paid wages he was owed, faith leaders told Construction Citizen.
Lucas Oscar Suazo was one of about 30 men doing a demolition project in downtown Houston for Full Service Construction Inc. over the last few months, and it appears that not only were they all being misclassified as contractors, they were also being paid less than minimum wage.
Suazo is owed $1929.66 for six weeks worth of work. Even though he’s been doing some of the hardest labor a person can do in the hot Texas sun, the 24-year-old construction worker had to borrow money to stay afloat and had to, at times, think twice about whether to eat. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jose Eduardo Sanchez at the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center this week. Sanchez was part of a delegation who went with Oscar to the employer's business and home to try to convince the employer to pay the wages he owed. Sanchez explained:
“About 30 of us who support Oscar went to Mr. Chapa’s business address, which is also his home address, and he wasn’t there at first. As we waited in the street near his house, we saw a big black work truck show up. That’s when Oscar and other faith leaders tried to talk to him.”
The employer, Fernando Chapa, said he’d never heard of the worker before and told the group that he had a gun. According to Sanchez, Chapa said:
“I have a gun and you don't know what I can do to you if you guys don't leave. This is not going to end well.”
After that, Chapa brandished a handgun and the group left the area, Sanchez said.
It’s not clear if charges will be filed against Chapa but police reports have been filed with the Houston police who are looking into this. Calls to Chapa have not been returned.
Hear my interview with Sanchez in the following 5 minute video.