Cover photo by Larry Moore
By Mike Talavera
A construction worker at the $240 million Austin FC stadium off of Burnet Rd. in North Austin spoke to the Tribune this week about the grueling work hours, intimidation by management, and imposed divisions on the workforce.
Upwards of 200 workers are currently on site, where ground was broken in late 2019. Earlier that year, Austin Football Club operator Precourt Sports Ventures appointed Austin Commercial as construction manager. When completed the stadium is expected to seat over 20,000, and the local bourgeoisie hope it will invite more capital to the city.
According to the worker who spoke to the Tribune, most on-site labor has 60-70 hour weeks and have to commute up to an hour away. Workers are expected to be productive throughout the duration of these long hours, and this high productivity rate is commonly enforced by the low-tier of management, the foremen who constantly yell at the workers. However, the higher-ups also make the rounds and have fired workers merely for being at a moment’s rest.
“If your project manager comes around and asks, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Why don’t you have something in your hand?’ and [the worker] will say ‘I’m waiting for x, y, and z’ – there’s no question of a reasonable , like ‘oh, maybe they’re just waiting on material,” the worker said. “It’s ‘Well, you kind of backtalk to me, so go pack your things.”
The worker also told the Tribune that the unions which some of the workers belong to actually make organizing the all of the workers on-site more difficult. Die-hard unionists will downplay the problems and assert, “We’re already organized! The union will take care of us.”
“The local union is very obviously in the pocket of the major contractors in the area,” the worker said.
Rather than rely on the union, the worker told the Tribune he wants to connect workers across trade lines, especially bridging the gap between skilled and so-called unskilled labor. The majority of unskilled workers are Spanish-speaking, and the worker believes that skilled laborers can be prejudiced against them.
“The conflict [between skilled and unskilled workers] is usually pushed by the foreman,” the worker said. “They breed a general resentment.”
But that can be overcome, the worker said, by talking to the workers on both sides and making them see that no matter the trade, they are united by the fact that they work.
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