For Immediate Release // Please Excuse Cross Posting
February 21st, 2017
Contact: Armando Carmona, 323-250-3018;;

New Report Highlights Safety & Wage Theft Issues Faced by Post-Disaster Recovery Workers Following Harvey Devastation

Houston, TX — A new report titled “After the Storm: Houston’s Day Labor markets in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey” highlights issues of wage theft, workplace safety, and the apprehension to accessing public institutions currently faced by a large percentage of reconstruction workers in Houston, Texas. Tens of thousands of families have been displaced in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and recovery workers, or second responders, are currently working tirelessly to rebuild towns and reweave the fabric of communities.

Link to the report:

To listen to the Press Call:

Professor Nik Theodore, Department of Urban Planning & Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago said:

“While day laborers perform the difficult and often dangerous work of demolition, clean up, and debris removal and rebuilding, their efforts and the hazards they face are rarely acknowledged. This report documents the employment and working conditions of day laborers in the weeks following hurricane Harvey and it reveals many troubling aspects of the recovery work in Houston.”

Rodolfo Elizalde, Day laborer expert in post-disaster recovery & board member at Fe y Justicia Worker Center

“I’ve participated in reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina, Tropical storm Allison, Rita, and almost every major disaster in the United States. One of the key problems that any day laborer continues to face is wage theft”

Cal Soto, Workers Rights Coordinator at NDLON said:

“The reconstruction works campaign that emerged out of the Congreso de Jornaleros in New Orleans was in response to some of the issues immigrant workers, day laborers were facing during recovery work post-hurricane Katrina. The principle of the campaign was and has been that the workers who are contributing critical work, who are taking part in rebuilding the community are a lifeblood, they should be taken care of just like they are taking great care to rebuild our homes”

Marianela Acuña Arreaza, Executive Director, Fe y Justicia Worker Center in Houston, TX said:

“Texas is the state with the weakest labor laws and has been a site of increasing attacks on immigrants. Fe y Justicia Worker Center has been working to create social change around workplace conditions in Houston for years and we will continue to bridge the gap between day laborers, workers and the institutions created to advocate for them.”

Some excerpts from the Executive Summary of the report:

“In just the first four weeks of disaster recovery, more than one-quarter (26%) of day laborers have been victims of wage theft and the total amount of unpaid wages across this workforce in this short period exceeded $20,000.”

“A major obstacle to the reduction of wage theft and the effective recovery of unpaid wages is that day laborers do not know where to report violations” (pp. i).

“Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the day laborers who identified themselves as being undocumented immigrants indicated that they do not feel safe asking for help from government officials.”

“Second responders are not receiving the training they need to protect themselves from hazards during post-disaster recovery. Eighty five percent of day laborers who have worked in hurricane affected areas report that they have not received any training for the worksites they are entering.”

“More than one-third (34%) of workers reported having been injured while employed as a day laborer in Houston.”

Link to the report: