The boss kept getting behind on paying us what he owed, for the hours we had worked. He kept me in this limbo where he would say ‘Hey, I’ll pay you after the next job or the following job’. And it went on like that for six months. It affects you a lot, because it affects how you’re providing for your family, your ability to pay for things on a daily basis. Sometimes your family asks you for things, without knowing whether you have the money or not. It was really hard on me.
During COVID lots of workers lost their jobs, not just in the painting industry. I wasn’t working during that time, and it was hard to pay the bills. As immigrants we often don’t have the resources to be able to apply for aid or for help from the government. It was very difficult to pay the rent.
In the painting industry we work with some really hazardous chemicals, and we don’t have the necessary protections. I think that there needs to be an organization that checks and educates so people know that it’s a problem to dump those chemicals in the lake or on the soil. So workers know how they might be damaging the environment and where they can dispose of the chemicals properly.
And we need plans to plant more trees. We need to treat the environment better, stop using plastic and throwing garbage in the river, because that takes a long time to degrade. This kind of stuff is killing us. We need people to come together to take care of the environment. Workers right and environmental justice go hand in hand.
Read more about David and how construction and environmental justice go hand in hand with MN350 here: