International workers' day brings protest

NEWSCENTER 23
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POSTED: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 3:53pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 2, 2014 - 7:43am

May 1 is International Workers day. 

Construction workers gathered outside Wilson Construction in McAllen to protest what say are unpaid wages. 

"We got complaints over 40 workers that have not been paid for their work. Some of them as many as four weeks," said Hector Guzman-Lopez of the South Texas Civil Rights Project. "Can you imagine that? What would you do if you didn't get a paycheck for four weeks?" 

He says the workers helped construct buildings for the Sharyland, PSJA, Los Fresnos and Harlingen school districts. He adds that the companies accused of not paying in full are Wilson Construction, Hammerhead Concrete and Texas DesCon. 

Wilson wouldn't provide a comment. Attempts to reach Hammerhead and Texas DesCon were unsuccessful. 

"Towards the end of the projects, the checks started bouncing," Construction worker Augustin Reyna Martinez said in Spanish. "I would call them and they would say, oh yeah, come back, we'll have your check ready for you. And we would wait there for hours and hours and they wouldn't pay."

The protesters had to quiet down because of where the protest was gathered.  The area on Pecan Road is directly under power lines and there's no sidewalk.  So that limits the number of people that can be there, and the amount of noise they can make.

"We've organized countless demonstrations in McAllen, all over the place, this is the first time that they tell us we can't do that," Guzman-Lopez said. "Can't be screaming, can't be chanting loud, no bullhorns."

McAllen Police showed up to tell organizers they also can't be in the parking lot and their signs can't hang over the street. Soon afterward, the protesters headed across the street to continue. They say the construction companies haven't said anything to them about the alleged non-payment. They just hope for a chance to resolve any issues.  

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