Justice for Roofers

"Once we worked at a warehouse from 6a.m. to 9p.m. in December. It was snowing and they put lights up for us to be able to continue working. We could hardly see. Some of us would lose our balance on the roof because of the snow. You would get home, shower, eat, sleep and be ready to be back at work at 6a.m. the next day. They kept pushing us to work harder and harder, they didn’t care if we had rested or not.

"The only safety equipment they gave us was our hardhats, a pair of bad safety glasses, and a harness. They wouldn’t give us gloves or filters for what we were breathing. We had to cut pieces of our own shirts to wrap around our mouths so that we wouldn’t breathe in the dust of what we were working on. They would only give us one safety talk a month and that would only last half an hour. We never saw the Material Safety Data Sheets from OSHA. They were never in the safety boxes or posted anywhere. We didn’t even know about them. They didn’t even have emergency kits on the jobsites. They never told us how to protect ourselves when we handled chemicals. They didn’t even give us rubber gloves when we worked with the chemicals to clean with."

"Once, while working at the Deaf School here in Indianapolis, I saw an old man who was working with us fall on his back and he continued falling until he went over the edge of the roof. He was trying to stop falling with his hands and feet, but he couldn’t. His hands were also roughed up during the fall from being dragged against the roof as he fell. His backside was also hurt as he was falling, everything. He said his whole back, his shoulder and his lower back all hurt very much after the fall, but they made him get back up on the roof and continue working, even though he looked like he was in a lot of pain. They didn’t send him to the hospital or anything. The foreman didn’t even check to see if he was alright, he just sent him back up on the roof. I couldn’t believe it. If you did get hurt, or cut, or whatever, they never did anything except wash off where you were hurt. If they had band-aids, they would give you one to put on. If not you had to cover the wound with a piece of clothing or a rag.

"One guy from Zacatecas always had to carry the heavy buckets of glue, nails, primer, cement and the plates, all Firestone equipment. He hurt his back from having to carry these things all the time. He asked the office if they would pay for his medical bill from the hospital, but they kept sending him from one place to another. Finally, a foreman told him that he had to go to the hospital and pay for it himself. Nu-Tec told him that it was his problem and never said anything else about why they wouldn’t take care of him. He always had to carry the heavy buckets because he was the only Latino on his crew."

"Once in Zanesville it was snowing very hard and the wind was very strong. They made us carry a heavy load up to the roof and we almost fell because of it. We left the rolls of plastic in the center of the roof. The wind was so strong that one of the rolls came at us and we had to jump out of the way. One kid, named Juan Salazar, was almost hit by the roll because he couldn’t get out of the way in time. He was scared to death after that and we all left and came back to Indianapolis, but they made us go back the next day. The manager got angry at us after that and he tried to make six of us stay in the same small apartment with only two beds. He was angry because we had complained about what happened the day before.

"Another time we were on the roof and we were loading insulation on to the roof from a crane. One of the pieces of insulation almost fell on top of one of the other workers. We were yelling at the driver of the crane to stop, but he accelerated. It was just luck that someone wasn’t killed. Two pieces of the insulation did fall and the other worker was trapped between the pieces of insulation. If there was an accident the company always covered it up. They wouldn’t do anything. When something would happen they treated us even worse. Like, they would make us work even longer, 15 or 16 hours a day. It was usually worse when we had to leave Indiana. They would make us work from 5 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m. They only let us have one short lunch break during the day. They made us work like mules so that they could get back to Indiana that same day."

Affiliated With Indiana State Roofers Council
2702 S. Foltz St., Indianapolis, IN 46241 • Phone: (317)-440-6199 • Fax: (317)-484-8993