Construction Citizen blogger Jim Kollaer recently met up with Cristina Tzintzún, the executive director of Austin’s Workers Defense Project (WDP). For the past 8 years she has worked with that organization, helping them to ensure better and safer working conditions for low-wage workers in the Austin area, including construction workers. WDP also assists victims of wage theft recover the money which their employers owe them but have refused to pay.
Wondering whether the construction workers who came to their office seeking help were representative of all of the construction workers in the area, they assisted the University of Texas in conducting a study which resulted in the report titled Building Austin, Building Injustice: Construction Working Conditions in Austin, Texas.
In the following video Jim asks Cristina what her work at WDP involves, what was learned from the recent worker study, how the immigration and wage theft bills before the Texas legislature were related, and what she would do regarding all of these issues if she had the power to be “queen for the day”.
Now the Workers Defense Project is preparing to team up once again with the University of Texas and conduct a new study about the condition of the construction industry in greater Texas. To accomplish this they plan to survey construction workers in 5 metropolitan areas of Texas: Houston, Dallas/Ft Worth, San Antonio, Austin and one other city, possibly Laredo or El Paso. Anthropologists will help develop the interview questions for the survey. Geographers will help map the locations of the construction sites and the construction growth in the state. The survey will be completed in 2012, and the report is expected to be published in February of 2013, in time for the next state legislative session.