January 10, 2018

Week six: Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas

Diana Mejia of Wind of the Spirit is back in Houston, Texas this week to continue her work as a SERT, this time joined by Mary Millspaugh of USW Local Union 7-103-A.

MONDAY Mejia and Millspaugh spent their first morning in Houston reviewing resiliency training materials, discussing contacts made by the SERTs previously in the area and looking over the current OSHA training schedule. They conducted follow-up phone calls regarding training schedules, and reached out to others to schedule even more.

The SERTs met with Scot Rudolph of NIEHS in the afternoon to plan which areas to conduct outreach in next and also to talk more about upcoming training opportunities. The team worked with the University of Texas to obtain a location to host training for domestic workers, and also put in a request to obtain personal protective equipment for an upcoming OSHA 10-hour course. At the UT, they picked up NIEHS training booklets in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. Finally, they met with Pastor Fidel and Pastora Angela to organize OSHA 10-hour classes for next week in a church. The church is located within a gated trailer community affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Mejia and Millspaugh concluded their day conducting more follow-up phone calls and developing flyers for the upcoming OSHA 10-hour courses being offered next week.

TUESDAY Mejia and Millspaugh spent the morning reaching out to day laborers in Katy, Texas, a city just west of Houston. They handed out NIEHS booklets on how to protect themselves while cleaning up after a natural disaster, speaking directly with 59 workers in Spanish and 10 in English. They inquired about providing PPE training outside of a supermarket, while also setting up another meeting for resiliency training opportunities at a local church.

The SERTs spent the afternoon meeting with members of the Fe y Justicia organization, sharing with them a tentative list of upcoming training sessions. The group confirmed resiliency training on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Concluding their day, the SERTs went to Cristo Vivo Church to follow-up on training scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4. The training will reach 35 Spanish-speaking workers, and 13 English-speaking workers. Finally, Mejia and Millspaugh traveled to Remanente Church to deliver flyers for upcoming classes.

WEDNESDAY Mejia and Millspaugh traveled to the Mexican Consulate and met with J. Lorea in Labor Relations to present upcoming training opportunities the Tony Mazzocchi Center will hold in Houston and the surrounding areas. The SERTs and Lorea discussed working together in the future.

They left from there and headed to the University of Tennessee to pick up 112 units of PPE which they will distribute to at the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), Katy day labor corner and OSHA training sessions.

Mejia and Millspaugh also learned that families with children displaced by Hurricane Harvey were living in a nearby hotel, most of them working to clean up and rebuild their homes daily. The SERTs worked with hotel management to brainstorm ideas that would provide health and safety training to the families who were tirelessly working to restore their homes. The SERTs presented the idea of an “ice cream social” at the hotel, and also requested permission from management to conduct safety discussions right outside of the hotel.

The SERTs concluded their day preparing for a train-the-trainer course with NDWA members.

THURSDAY Mejia and Millspaugh facilitated a train-the-trainer course on personal protective equipment for members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance today.

“This group of women was affected by the hurricane, and have also been working with people in affected areas,” Mejia said. “Prior to Harvey they were taking care of children with special needs, elderly folks and infants, and were cleaning houses. After Harvey, they began cleaning up debris, doing construction work and helping affected families as well as their own.”

“They became ill with skin allergies, bacterial infections and chronic coughs. They expressed concerns for themselves and the people they are taking care of. They shared their stories and the challenges they’re facing with their new working roles. The training took place at the home of one of the members,” Mejia said.

When the training concluded he SERTs picked up more PPE and materials, and prepared for the next scheduled training session.

FRIDAY The SERTs conducted another session on PPE training which lasted for two and a half hours for 25 day labor workers in Katy, Texas. They were also able to reach about 15 more workers from there. The remainder of their day consisted of preparing for an OSHA 10-hour course to be delivered the next day.

SATURDAY & SUNDAY Over these two days, the SERTs facilitated OSHA 10-hour Construction training at Iglesia Cristo Vive (Assemblies of God) Church in Houston, Texas for 30 workers.

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