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Workers Defense Project Wins Fight Against Large Developer
Yesterday evening (5/24/12), over 150 workers and allies marched into City Hall to demand decent working conditions, fair wages, and career paths for Austin's downtown construction workers. Environmentalists, students, labor, congregations, and industry leaders came to support the march.
Austin City Council was scheduled to vote on selling the last large piece of undeveloped land in Downtown Austin to the largest private developer in the country, Trammell Crow. Workers Defense Project asked Trammell Crow to sign a Premier Community Builder agreement to ensure safe working conditions, a living wage, and career paths for low-wage and underemployed workers on the project.
Trammell Crow refused. Trammell Crow, worth billions of dollars, told City Council that paying a minimum wage of $12.00/hour was unaffordable.
In response, Workers Defense Project refused to accept that profits should come before people. We marched, we chanted, we rallied, and we fought back. Workers and allies testified for almost five hours about the dire need to create good, safe jobs in Austin.
Finally, at 2 AM, the City Council had to make a decision. Council Member Laura Morrision chose to stand for construction workers by requiring that Trammell Crow work with WDP to:
1) Participate in Workers Defense Project's worker welfare monitoring program every pay period and
2) Aim to hire 20% of the workforce from local bilingual technical schools, so that underemployed workers in dead-end jobs can move into living wage positions of at least $16/hour after receiving free training.
The City Council unanimously voted in favor of these provisions.
WDP will keep the community diligently informed about whether or not Trammell Crow meets its obligations.
We made history last night. Now it is our responsibility to make sure Trammell Crow lives up to the requirements for creating good, safe jobs. We could not have done it without you.
A ZGraphix production.
Produced by Jeff Zavala.