Susan Van Haitsma : Austin’s ‘Day of the Fallen’

Remembering fallen construction workers in Austin. Photo by Susan Van Haitsma / The Rag Blog.

‘Day of the Fallen’:
Honoring construction workers killed on the job

By Susan Van Haitsma / The Rag Blog / March 3, 2011

See more photos below.

AUSTIN — The Workers Defense Project organized a march and rally yesterday called ‘Day of the Fallen” to commemorate the deaths of construction workers in the state of Texas. We began the march at the Federal Building Plaza and carried 138 black coffin replicas to the steps of the Texas Capitol.

Although the coffins were built lightly of foam core board and contained only air, I felt the heaviness of the sadness we were conveying.

People had come for the march from as far away as El Paso, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. We numbered about 300, I think. Included were union members and family members of construction workers who had died on the job.

Jim Hightower spoke, and Eliza Gilkyson sang. Rev. Jim Rigby emceed. There were prayers in English and in Espanol, gospel music and a singalong of “If I had a hammer,” led by a young trio.

We stood with our CodePink banner in solidarity, and I watched legislators and their aides come out of the capitol, skirting our demonstration, looking sideways at the coffins. I wanted them to stop and listen, but they walked quickly on.

On my way home, I looked out the bus window at the beautiful buildings in our downtown, the new lofts and storefronts. Most of the people who built them can not afford to live in them. Some of the people who built them were injured on the job. Some were not paid for their work. When I pass the spot on Rio Grande where three immigrant men fell to their deaths because of faulty equipment, I sense their spirits are present, asking me why. The chic little shop that opened a few feet from where the men hit the earth is called, “Bodega on Rio.”

[Susan Van Haitsma is active in Austin with Sustainable Options for Youth and CodePink. She also blogs at makingpeace.]





Photos by Susan Van Haitsma / The Rag Blog.

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5 Responses to Susan Van Haitsma : Austin’s ‘Day of the Fallen’

  1. Brother Jonah says:

    Thank you. I should have been there but a)I didn’t know and b)I wouldn’t have been able to afford the bus fare down.
    The “Right To Work” law, the “right” of employers to disregard any safety regulations, the “right” to deny health care after they break the workers who feed their fat porky Rich-Bitch collective ass, the “right” to look down on the workers as inferior beings…

    to pay us less than it costs us to produce our labor…

    The destruction of Unions in other states combined with the denial of Texas workers to organize, degrading us all into a class of disposables.

    We’ve had our “Human Resources” taken from us, now we’re the “Workforce”, not even human… until we’re broken and then we’re “bums”.

    They say it’s so those poor, underpaid, completely abused Parasite Class rich boys like Cheney (the CEO of the corporation that broke me)can afford to provide jobs for us.

    Like Don Blankenship of Massey Energy, taking a 12 million dollar retirement package plus stock options plus “consulting” fees, telling other BigPig bosses how to create 29 job openings in one explosive moment through ignoring safety regulations and ordering the workers not to waste precious “company time” maintaining the safety equipment that would have saved their lives.

    and the cash from his retirement package would be worth, in itself, more than the amount of compensation paid to the families of the workers he murdered.

    Now the RepubliTea Extremists think they’re on the verge of putting the Texas Right to (be exploited at) Work Law in place nationally. The individuals in their “grass roots” heavily funded by corporate (billions of) dollars don’t give a damn about workplace safety or any of the related work issues, especially pay and health care, until and unless it happens to them personally. How much does a human soul cost? Ask a TeaBagger what he was paid for his (or hers).

    Thank you to all the workers who DID manage to turn out, in capitals around the country. Tell the people, tell them loud.

  2. Brother Jonah says:

    Yeah, I complain about the preventable accident that cost me the use of my foot. A LOT. That’s to make up for the people who suffer in silence, who look away when somebody else suffers, and of course, the Eternally Silent ones who can never speak of the injustice done to them, not with their own voices.

    Often the Very Rich and their Extremist supporters complain, much more loudly, that they’re victims of those very greedy and naughty workers who have the gall to demand compensation for our injuries, our deaths and even for the very work we do to support them.

    They have to take time out from feasting on the bread they stole from the mouths of our children in order to scream about how badly “victimized” they are if they make 4.9 points instead of 5 on their stock options because of the workers being paid anything at all.

  3. T.G. Fisher says:

    Brother Jonah left out two very important “rights” afforded in a “right to work state.” (1) The right to work in servility, and
    (2) the right to work for a handful of peanuts.

  4. Amen. And organizing in Texas can lead to being imprisoned. In a slave-labor TDCJ unit run for the profit of the Texas Correctional Industries corporation or, even more starkly WRONG, in a Wackenhut or CCA private prison, working for exactly $0.00 an hour/day/month/year/lifetime.

    Be a good slave and don’t complain or they’ll slash (eliminate) your wages and shorten your leash even more.

  5. Most people that I know or know of, who are injured on the job find a lawyer and sue the company. That is what our legal system is for. Perhaps Jonah should take his bum foot and go do that.

    In some of the places I go, Jonah would be the fat cat he complains about. He doesnt crap in a hole in the ground. His drinking water doesnt make him and keep him sick. He doesnt have to walk a day or two to find medical and dental care. He can read and write. Bum foot and all he lives in the relative lap of luxury compared to the poor people in Ecuador and Honduras and Ethiopia and the homeless and poor in Austin. So tell you what Jonah, get off your ass and go serve someone else who has it a whole lot worse than you do. Maybe if did, you wouldnt be so hateful towards others.

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