On Wednesday, Houston Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia introduced a bill requiring employers to offer a paid rest break for construction workers.
The legislation would guarantee construction workers at least one 15-minute paid rest break every four hours of work, something Garcia stresses is the bare minimum. The bill would also require employers to notify workers of their new rest break right at the start of their employment.
The legislation comes as Texas braces against triple digit temperatures amid a national heatwave that has promoted heat advisories in 28 states.
In response to the lingering heatwave, President Biden has unveiled a series of executive actions to begin addressing the climate crisis while considering declaring a climate emergency.
In a statement, Garcia said she introduced the legislation to prevent workplace injuries and protect construction workers.
“I’ve heard far too many horror stories from workers who have been seriously injured due to employers not allowing rest breaks,” Garcia said. “These cruel business practices hurt minorities and Latino communities, like those in my district, the most. These are essential workers who contribute massively to our economy and infrastructure, and they must be protected with paid rest breaks.”
The legislation was supported by Workers Defense Project, the Texas labor advocacy group that passed similar measures at the local level in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. In 2021, Texas Republicans took aim at the local ordinances and others with legislation that limited the power of local government.
“We thank Congresswoman Garcia for her leadership on this issue and meeting the critical moment we are in as more workers’ lives are threatened by the impact of climate change and the death toll not having a rest break takes on construction workers and their families,” said Lizeth Chacón, co-executive director of Workers Defense.