Don’t Deprive Workers of Water and Rest During Deadly Heat Waves

Target: Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas

Goal: Do not repeal mandated water breaks and rest periods for workers endangered by extreme heat.

A heat dome has settled over much of Texas, pummeling the state with temperatures close to 120 degrees. The unforgiving wave of heat has set nearly 100 record temperatures, pushed the power grid to the brink, and killed at least four people…including a postal worker who literally dropped dead in triple-digit heat. In response to these dangerous conditions, Texas politicians—from their air-conditioned offices—have put some of the state’s most at-risk workers in harm’s way.

In the name of deregulation, Governor Greg Abbott just signed a law that cuts key protections for working individuals exposed to lethal heat. On the chopping block are local rules from major cities that require construction employers to give their workers ten-minute breaks about every four hours. This law has also been dubbed the Water Break Ban because it will in essence keep these workers who toil in the sweltering sun for hours from even taking a few moments to get a sip of water.

Sign the petition below to demand the supposed proponent of small government governor keep his hands and his poison pen off workers’ rights that could mean the difference between life and death.


Dear Governor Abbott,

Eugene Gates, Jr.: do you know this name, Governor? He was employed in your state as a postal worker–a position for which he apparently gave his life. This man passed away on a sidewalk baked by 100-plus degree heat as a passerby attempted in vain to revive him. He joins the 35-year-old utility worker who died while trying to restore power to an overheated town and the dozens of other Texas workers who have died in the past decade because of environmental stressors. These tragic losses have given Texas the dubious distinction as the state with the highest number in the nation of such worker deaths.

What lesson has this state’s leaders taken from these tragedies or from the absolutely abysmal heat wave currently battering countless cities and towns? You have decided to strip away water breaks—or any periods of rest—for the individuals who work in these dangerous conditions for hours a day. And you have decided to make this heartless decision in the name of protecting businesses rather than the human beings who make them function. Moreover, your self-proclaimed small government has waded into the decisions that local leaders make to protect their constituents.

Perhaps you should try abiding by your own law for just a day and see how you feel. This incredibly cruel dictate will not go into effect for a few weeks, so it is not too late to reverse your decision and save lives. Don’t make the citizens whom you represent pay the ultimate price.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Yury Kim

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