February 12, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Julio Fernandez / 612-232-1253
Striking Workers Rally Over Abuses by N.C. Department of Transportation Contractor Border Rebar
“Our state needs the infrastructure work done, but at what cost?”
February 12, 2018, (Raleigh, NC) – Clergy, members of community & civic organizations, labor advocates, public servants, and private citizens held a sidewalk rally with striking Border Rebar workers outside the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) this afternoon to draw attention to dangerous and abusive working conditions at one of its contractors, Border Rebar, and to call on the Department to meet and discuss implementing responsible contractor policies.
The workers, along with supportive community members, have reached out to both Border Rebar and officials at NCDOT to request a resolution to worksite issues. Border Rebar worker Caleb Sanderlin walked off the job in May of 2016 in protest of working conditions at the company after suffering an injury on the job. That injury created medical bills for Sanderlin which Border management refused to help him pay and was a wakeup call for Sanderlin about how little the company cared for the safety of their workforce. He has been fighting for change at the company ever since.
“We’re back at DOT’s door again, after yet another worker has been injured,” said Sanderlin. “I’m not sure how many times it will take or how many workers have to get hurt for DOT to hear us, but we won’t stop trying until they do.”
According to striking workers, Border Rebar doesn’t provide adequate assistance for injured workers and refuses to supply protective safety gear required by federal OSHA regulations. Among other issues, the company pays low wages and there is a lack of affordable healthcare for workers and their families—facts workers believe compound the problem.
“We’ve raised the issue of our tax dollars being spent on unethical companies like Border Rebar,” said Alexis Gonzalez, who walked off the job in July. “Yet DOT continues to allow Border on their taxpayer funded projects. Our state needs the infrastructure work done, but at what cost?”
“Avoiding injuries on the job takes more than just skill—it takes the right training and safety equipment—it’s obvious that Border management doesn’t care about either,” said Gonzalez. “They create an unsafe work environment then leave working families to figure out how to pay the medical bills on their low wages when they get hurt.”
The striking workers from Border Rebar joined a community coalition called the Justice & Respect in the Reinforcing Industry Coalition (JRRIC). JRRIC was formed in 2014 by workers, their families and supportive community organizations to combat the issues workers are facing in the Reinforcing Industry today. JRRIC members believe that all workers deserve respect and a safe working environment free from abuse and harassment. The coalition is committed to the education of workers within the industry about their rights, and ensuring all employers are held morally responsible for the treatment of their workforce.
The North Carolina State AFL-CIO is the largest association of unions of working people in North Carolina, representing a hundred and forty-five thousand members, working together for good jobs, safe workplaces, workers’ rights, consumer protections, and quality public services on behalf of ALL working people. PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605