New PBS film probes construction boom on Latino workers - InfoNews

Kelowna News and Business Directory

Current Conditions

Cloudy
12.5°C

New PBS film probes construction boom on Latino workers

This undated photo provided by Panda Bear Films/Latino Public Broadcasting shows Salvadoran immigrants Claudia and Alex Golinelli, featured in a new PBS film stand outside their Dallas home. "Building the American Dream," a new VOCES/PBS documentary scheduled to air on most PBS stations on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, examines the effects of this construction boom in the American Southwest on Latino workers by telling the stories of those erecting buildings in Texas. (Moyo Oyelola/Panda Bear Films/Latino Public Broadcasting via AP)
September 13, 2020 - 11:10 AM

RIO RANCHO, N.M. - Since the Great Recession, cities like Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, and Hobbs, New Mexico, have seen construction booms. Homes and skyscrapers have popped up almost overnight thanks to cheap labour Latino immigrants provide contractors.

But at what cost?

“Building the American Dream,” a new VOCES/PBS documentary, examines the effects of this construction boom in the American Southwest on Latino workers by telling the stories of those erecting buildings in Texas.

The film dives into the lives of one Mexican immigrant family in Texas after their construction worker son dies while on the job.

A Salvadorian electrician couple is cheated out of wages and tries to force a contractor to pay despite having no union to back them up.

Meanwhile, advocates work to try to convince lawmakers and city officials to make lives better for workers, not by demanding insurance or workers’ compensation, but through a simple request: water breaks.

Director Chelsea Hernandez said she’d been working on the film since 2009 and it's a microcosm of the exploitation Latino construction workers face in the U.S.

“It’s something that came organically and by talking to the workers I met,” said Hernandez, a third-generation Mexican American filmmaker from Austin, Texas.

She was introduced to her subjects and the advocacy group the Workers Defence Project after observing the workers' plight in Texas, which outlaws most regulations aimed at protecting labourers. Business leaders in Texas tout its low cost in construction to attract investment but it comes while exploiting vulnerable workers, some with no immigration status, Hernandez said.

The film, though a partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting, is scheduled to begin airing on most PBS stations on Tuesday to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. It will also be available for streaming on PBS.

___

Russell Contreras is a member of The Associated Press’ Race and Ethnicity Team. Follow him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/russcontreras

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

  • Popular kelowna News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile