Category archives for Uncategorized
Another study, another support beam in the argument that access to insurance coverage matters — a lot.
It’s Tuesday evening and as usual, the small parking lot outside the Workers Defense Project on Austin’s eastside is packed. The dusty lot is strewn with cars and pick-up trucks parked wherever they can fit and get in off the road. I’ve arrived well before the night’s activities begin, so I easily secure a spot. But my gracious guide and translator, a college intern named Alan Garcia, warns me that I might get blocked in. It happens all the time, he says.
For six months, Jorge Rubio worked at a local chain of tortilla bakeries and taquerias in the cities of Brownsville and San Benito, both in the very southern tip of Texas. Rubio, 42, prepared the food, cleaned equipment, served customers. Eventually, he decided to quit after being overworked for months. On his last day of work, his employer refused to pay him the usual $50 for an 11-hour workday.
For years, Peter Rosenfeld was looking for an effective way to treat what doctors had diagnosed as severe and intractable migraines. He’d heard of medical marijuana, but thought it was a joke — that it was just a way for people to justify their marijuana use. Today, he’s a passionate advocate for medicinal marijuana and one of many advocates disappointed at recent federal actions.
To the long list of hard-to-pronounce bacteria and viruses that threaten people’s health can now be added one more threat: sequestration. Except sequestration isn’t a disease — well, unless you’d call Congress’ chronic inability to deal with the national debt in a fair and balanced way a disease.
In the fall of 2011, a new Texas statute took effect against employers who engage in wage theft, putting in place real consequences for employers found guilty of stealing wages from workers. It was a big step forward in a state where wage theft has become as common as cowboy boots and pick-up trucks. It was especially good news for workers in El Paso, where wage theft has become so rampant that workers rights advocates have dubbed it an “epidemic.”
Hunger in America can be hard to see. It doesn’t look like the image of hunger we usually see on our TVs: the wrenching impoverishment and emaciation. Talking about American hunger is hard because, well, there’s food all around us.
Last month, more than 70 ironworkers walked off an ExxonMobil construction site near Houston, Texas. The workers, known as rodbusters in the industry, weren’t members of a union or backed by powerful organizers; they decided amongst themselves to unite in protest of unsafe working conditions in a state that has the highest construction worker fatality rate in the country.
Just a few years ago in Butte County, Calif., it wasn’t unusual for public health workers to administer more than 1,000 free HIV tests every year. In true public health fashion, they’d bring screening services to the people, setting up in neighborhoods, parks and bars, at special community events and visiting the local drug treatment facility and jail. The goal was prevention and education, and no one got turned away.
When most of us think of sustainability and construction, the usual suspects probably come to mind: efficient cooling and heating, using nontoxic building materials, minimizing environmental degradation — in other words, being green. But in Austin, Texas, a new effort is working to expand the definition of sustainability from the buildings themselves to the hands that put them together.