Worker’s Defense Project has called a press conference today at 3rd and Brazos to release evidence that Marriott has broken it’s agreement to pay workers fairly.

Wait! Before you yawn and move on to a story that affects you personally, consider this. If you would not rob a poor person at gunpoint, then you should not turn away when your city or state robs them collectively. The only chance the poor have is for people like you and me to stop tuning out to their misery. It is an age old practice in Texas for builders to underpay construction workers, or not pay them at all, knowing local governments will ignore that crime rather than face the fury of their rich supporters. They are also counting on the fact that most people like you and I won’t care enough to do anything. Today, I will be joining other faith and labor leaders to release evidence that Marriott, after receiving 3.8 million dollars in fee waivers, has broken their commitment to the city to pay workers fairly.

 “We have evidence from representatives of the JW Marriott explicitly showing that they are not keeping their end of the deal,” says Philip Lawhon from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

“The case of the Marriott shows that the current incentives system isn’t working. Workers deserve a fair wage, and taxpayers deserve to know that their money is being handled responsibly… If workers aren’t being paid enough to support their families, that’s not smart growth. We need to ensure that our City’s growth benefits all Austinites.” -Gregorio Casar, from the Workers Defense Project

While some rich developers may consider construction workers fodder, Worker’s Defense Project tirelessly works to protect them. My role in the press conference will be to remind all of us of the prophetic truth that a nation’s spiritual health is measured by how it treats it’s most vulnerable people. Workers should not be robbed of their wages just because they lack political clout. As attorneys for the Texas Civil Rights Project have said:

If they (Marriott) aren’t paying a prevailing wage, they’re violating the ordinance and committing a crime. City staff couldn’t give developers informal permission to do that any more than a police officer can give you permission to burglarize your neighbor’s house.”

It is easy to say we care about the working poor, but the only way to actually do so is for you and me to stand by their side until they are given their fair share.