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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Migrant laborers slip through the tattered safety net in Texas

English: Flag of Houston. SVG image created by...
English: Flag of Houston. SVG image created by uploader based on a bitmap image on the Wikipedia and other images on the web. EspaƱol: La bandera del Ciudad de Houston (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today's post is shared from
Part I: The dark side of the Texas Miracle
By Jay Root

Along a street lined with warehouses on the east side of Houston, nine Mexican laborers working about 20 feet off the ground are tearing up a concrete roof with handmade pickaxes.
They are chiseling it out, one mattress-size panel at a time, then shoving the debris onto the floor below. There’s a giant pile of rubble down there, a jumble of dirty insulation, tar-covered roof decking and fire-suppression water pipes ripped from the building’s interior.
To call the work hazardous would be an understatement. The workers are standing on the very roof they are demolishing, and none of them is wearing so much as a hard hat, let alone fall protection equipment like harnesses and lanyards. Technically, federal authorities require that, but the chances of a surprise inspection — or any interference from a state government that brags about its light regulations — are about as likely as a cool breeze on this warm October day.
Santiago Arias is acutely aware of the risks. He knows accidents can happen. Eleven months earlier, he lost his left eye while working for the same contractor who is running this demolition site. And as temperatures soar toward 90 degrees, he is struggling to see through the sweat stinging his one good eye.
But the day’s work is almost done, and...
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