Work Breaks in Texas – Dying from the Heat

As the heat index hit 115 degrees on Monday, Karla Perez took a five-minute water break at a construction site in Dallas. Such rest breaks are required by the city, as they are in Austin.

But a change in Texas state law, which goes into effect in September, will wipe away those local requirements, leaving workers like Ms. Perez to count on their employers to provide time to rest and rehydrate. Right now, she gets three breaks a day. She dreads what the change might bring.

“Workers are going to die,” she said. “There’s no way around it.”

The ordinance in Dallas passed after the death of a 25-year-old worker, Roendy Granillo, who was installing hardwood floors in a house without air conditioning when he began to feel sick and asked for a break. The request was denied. He kept working until he collapsed.

The medical examiner’s office said the cause was heat stroke. “My parents were told his organs were cooked from the inside,” said his sister, Jasmine Granillo.

In Battle Over Direction of Texas, an Unlikely Casualty: Water Breaks
A new law pre-empting local labor rules is part of an effort by Republicans in the Capitol to exert control over the state’s Democratic-led major cities.