Congressman Greg Casar protested with a nine-hour hunger and thirst strike on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday against Texas House Bill 2127, calling for a federal workplace heat standard.
“It destroys local protections for workers. We’ve had workers die just in the last few weeks across the State of Texas because of heat exhaustion. The government should be standing on the side of workers and supporting them.” said Casar.
The new law, which takes effect on Sept. 1, will prevent cities like San Antonio from making or enforcing local laws across broad areas of state law, including finance, insurance, labor, or employment benefits.
That means Austin and Dallas city ordinances on mandatory water breaks and any hopes of similar rules in San Antonio will be limited when the law goes into effect.
This will affect many blue-collar workers in South Texas who work at triple-digit degrees.
One worker, Michael Velazquez, told KSAT he drinks close to 12 bottles of water a day working outside.
“Why would they try to stop them from drinking water when it’s something that we need to obviously live? We need water to stay hydrated. We need water to keep on going throughout our day. So it shouldn’t even be an argument,” said Velazquez.
Congressman Casar’s thirst strike was in an effort to call the Biden administration and the occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to implement a federal heat standard.
“We could pass this if just five Republicans signed on because I think there’s overwhelming majority support from the Democrats, and we need to accelerate the federal rulemaking process so that if four or five Republicans aren’t willing to sign on that, we get the Biden administration to do it themselves,” said Casar.