Congressman Greg Casar leads thirst strike as Texas governor cuts workers' water breaks

Washington DC - Texas Representative Greg Casar has launched a thirst strike on the steps of the US Capitol demanding federal action to counteract Governor Greg Abbott's attacks on water breaks for workers.

Texas Representative Greg Casar is demanding federal action to guarantee heat protections for workers around the country.
Texas Representative Greg Casar is demanding federal action to guarantee heat protections for workers around the country.  © Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

"I’m on thirst strike today because families across Texas and across America deserve dignity on the job. But Greg Abbott doesn’t think so. During this heat wave, the Governor just signed a law taking away your right to a water break at work. It’s an outrageous attack on Texans – and threatens all workers," Casar said in a press release.

"The Biden Administration must step in, override Abbott, and ensure heat protections for all Americans in all industries," the first-term congressman continued.

"Our government should work for working people, not for greedy corporations that exploit their workers and fill Abbott’s campaign coffers."

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The action comes in response to Abbott's signing of House Bill 2127 – known by opponents as the "Death Star" bill – which imposes restrictions on local ordinances around labor, agriculture, climate, and finance that go further than state law.

The city regulations on the chopping block include water breaks for construction workers in Austin and Dallas.

Greg Casar previously led the charge for water break protections in Texas

Construction workers put up house wrap during a heat wave in Houston, Texas.
Construction workers put up house wrap during a heat wave in Houston, Texas.  © Mark Felix / AFP

Casar led a similar thirst strike in 2010 while he was serving on the Austin city council. Later that same year, the city government passed rest and water break protections for workers.

The Houston native later went on to push for similar protections in Dallas, which passed in 2015 and are now under threat thanks to Abbott's new law.

The City of Houston has already filed suit over HB 2127, but with temperatures reaching record highs, the federal government cannot afford to wait for the results of a court battle, Casar has warned.

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The congressman is calling on the Biden administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to institute protections for extreme heat – an area noticeably lacking in current regulations. He was received the support of more than 110 of his congressional colleagues, who sent a letter to the same effect on Monday.

Proponents point out that the need for federal measures is all the more urgent as the climate crisis worsens.

Cover photo: Brandon Bell / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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