Record-setting tropical storm Harvey slowly flooded Houston over the last few days of August. While we at Fe y Justicia Worker Centerare sending much love to and supporting the hundreds of thousands of people who have been impacted by this storm and those who have dedicated themselves to rescue and survival efforts, we have also started thinking about the long process of reconstructing our city. We are committed to a recovery that is swift and safe, as well as fair for those making it happen on the ground.
Learning from organizations who coordinated efforts to cleanup and reconstruct after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and from our own worker members’ experience post-Allison and Ike, we know a couple things: (1) immigrant workers, specifically day laborers, will be absolutely key in these reconstruction efforts; (2) everyone performing this work will face numerous safety and health risks, including falls, sewage, and mold, as well as persisting emotional stress and trauma; and (3) in an extremely diverse city, this recovery process will depend on our ability to sustain the spirit of kindness and collaboration for months and years to come.
Fe y Justicia Worker Center is the premier worker center in the city of Houston, and we are honored to partner up with over a dozen national, state, and local organizations, such as the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, to support Houston workers and volunteers in their efforts to clean and rebuild our city. Our plan includes:
- Offering grants to our worker members and other low-wage workers who need support after having lost their homes, cars, and tools of labor;
- Bringing safety and health awareness workshops for at least 8,000 workers and volunteers performing cleanup/reconstruction work, along with preparing in 40 local trainers to our city;
- Providing safety and health equipment, such as respirators, gloves, and boots to all workers and volunteers we train in safety measures;
- Organizing Day Laborer Relief Brigades to reconstruct our communities, followingthis successful modelused after Hurricane Sandy;
- Managing a hotline for workers and volunteers to ask about safety and health, as well as worker rights post-disaster (i.e. disaster unemployment, wage and hour violations, and others); and
- Strengthening a Worker Rights Clinic, which includes worker rights education, case management for post-storm labor issues, and connecting folks who have been injured to reliable attorneys and government agencies.
For reconstructing Houston, once the rain subsides and media attention dies out, your support will be just as critical for our communities begin to rebuild themselves as it is now for survival efforts. That's why we're asking you to contribute to this campaign – as little or as much as you can. Your support will ensure low-wage, immigrant workers and all other impacted communities, can reconstruct Houston safely and sustainably.