Houston: Students, community demand fair pay for construction workers
University of Houston students, professors and community activists joined the Workers Defense Project and construction workers at a rally on Jan.23 to protest conditions faced by these workers at the University of Houston’s Quad Housing project. They have not received prevailing wages or overtime pay as required by state law.
After months of dealing with the general contractor and subcontractors, the workers are taking their issue of unpaid wages to the university administration.
Speaking at the rally during their lunch break, some construction workers appealed to students to support their efforts to pressure the administration to deal with thieving contractors.
At the rally, student activist Natasha Ulow, representing the Young Socialists of America, affirmed student support for the workers: “We stand with the workers of the Quads who have suffered wage theft. We unequivocally condemn the university administration, up to and including UH President Renu Khator, for condoning the conduct of those who have committed wage theft.”
Ulow asserted, “We intend to continue standing and fighting alongside the workers for as long as it takes to bring about justice. It is an affront that workers are under a threat of retaliation if they speak about the conditions of their employment, that students will be living in dorms built by workers who have suffered wage theft. We urge the administration to respond, not only to pay them in full their stolen wages but to sincerely apologize to the workers and their families.”
Other speakers included representatives of the AFL-CIO and the Workers Defense Project. After the rally the crowd of over 50 people marched through campus to UH President Khator’s office to deliver their message.
Rubac was a union carpenter in New York and Houston for nearly 10 years.