Last Saturday, a group of construction workers marched to Dallas’ Cole Park to protest against the Georgia-based Gables Residential property development corporation. Marching under fluorescent “hard-hat yellow” colored banners emblazoned with the phrase “Build It Better,” the workers sought to bring attention to what they see as the unacceptable working conditions created at Gables Residential properties.
The protest, organized by the Austin-based Worker’s Defense Project, is part of a larger campaign to pressure the Gables company to increase worksite safety and administrative accountability. “We just marched a short march today for about 30 minutes and we’re sweating profusely. We realize it must be very difficult, their days on the job,” said Robert Caldwell, with the Workers Defense Project. “And not getting regular water breaks must be horrible,” he added.
Protestors allege that Gables Residential is guilty of creating inhumane working conditions. Workers report over $130,000 in wage theft and being forced to work 50-60 overtime hours per week without receiving overtime pay. Workers say that they are expected to work even if the site lacks the necessary safety equipment, and that they are denied regular rest and water breaks. Several reported having witnessed their co-workers collapse while on the job due to having been denied rest and water breaks in 110-degree heat. Complicating matters is the high percentage of undocumented workers at Gables Residential sites, whose status leaves them without recourse to traditional legal means.
This Dallas-area protest follows a similar protest February protest held at Gables Park Plaza in Austin on February 15 of this year. Although the protests are said to have been organized in response to Gables Residential’s previous refusal to discuss the situation, the Gables did sit down with the Workers’ Defense Project on Thursday, February 13, to discuss the accusations. In response to the Dallas protest, Gables Residential released the following statement:
Gables Residential has a long-standing and well documented commitment to providing quality apartment homes for our residents as well as a safe working environment for our associates and contractors in full compliance with local, state and federal laws.
Gables Residential provides over 5000 hours of safety training annually, employs its own safety experts, provides Workers Compensation coverage for its associates and requires coverage by its sub-contractors, reflected in a proven track record of performance.