6strikers.jpgIn late October, a small but committed band of rodmen – construction workers who place the reinforcing steel in the concrete structure of buildings, bridges, power plants, etc – walked off the job at Wings Enterprises. While many of the striker’s demands are familiar — a living wage, benefits and a respectful workplace – they’re also demanding drinking water and basic safety equipment. The strike has become the foundation for the Justice at Wings campaign, which brings together the striking workers with the DC Student Labor Action Project, Interfaith Worker Justice of Greater Washington, DC Jobs with Justice and the DC Workers’ Rights Board. rnrnDC JwJ and other allies have organized a series of actions to support the workers, including meetings with DC Councilmember and delegations to Wings’ clients. Although the current strike involves a handful of local rodmen, it has broader implications both locally and nationally. Wings, one of the largest rebar contractors in metro Washington, specializes in concrete reinforcement and crane erection/dismantlement for both public and private projects. Current projects include the Dulles Metrorail Extension, Square 54, George Washington University and the garage at National Airport. rnrnWings does not provide health insurance for its workers, one of whom, Adan (last names are being withheld to protect the worker’s confidentiality) noted that “the work we do is very difficult and dangerous. I have a family that depends on me, and when I get sick, I don’t have any medical insurance.” The striking workers also say the company awards work based on favoritism. “The foremen favor friends and family over the rest of the workers,” says Elmer, another striker. “They often get priority for higher paying government jobs.” Like all construction jobs, the rodmen’s work involves strenuous physical labor, much of it outside in all kinds of weather, and while the workers say access to drinking water is critical to their health and safety, “the company has ignored our requests” for water, says Mauricio.