Things That Matter

Janitors Worked Overtime To Help People During Harvey And Their Employers Are Punishing Them

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Angel Flores recalls looking up at the televisions, watching Hurricane Harvey wreck everything in its path. His home city of Houston was being hit hard, leaving a trail of damage and death behind it, and all he can think of was his wife and children. He hadn’t seen them in days.

“It hurts me to talk about this,” says Flores. “My family was at home, and I was here. It was something so hard. I yearned for them so much.”

Flores has been a janitor at the city of Houston’s transport building for 14 years. He’s an employee of JBM, a janitorial cleaning service, which is subcontracted by another company, McLemore Building Maintenance.

When Harvey hit, his building became an emergency ground zero and was placed into lockdown. Someone at the transport building requested three janitors to stay in the building while employees at the government office worked around the clock to monitor the storm, and public officials like the mayor and governor stopped in. When that couldn’t be accommodated, they requested that Flores work 24 hour shifts for an uncertain amount of days.

“What do I do? I don’t have an option,” says Flores. “They sent another two people after five days or so. But really there’s not an option. And once you’re here, you can’t leave anywhere.”

In total, Flores worked for 24 hours for seven days straight. He slept about 2 hours a night in a small closet, only to be woken up at 4 am to empty out the trash.

Those seven days were immediately followed by another four days where he worked 12-hour shifts. That’s 12 days of working before he had a day to rest, all while a Hurricane Harvey ravaged the outside.

“Every 10 minutes you had to pick up trash. It was continuous. No breaks,” says Flores, who lost six pounds due to the brutal work schedule. “I took 10-to-15 minutes to eat, because that was the less I can do. I know I didn’t have enough time. I had to go back because the trash would start piling up.”

Flores says the pats on the back and words of encouragement he received from coworkers helped him throughout the ordeal. He felt he was doing his part to help the city of Houston. And while the experience and those moments of kindness bring him to tears, it isn’t enough to support him and his family financially.

He was worried he wouldn’t be paid for the extra hours he worked through the storm, especially because he feels his employer, JBM, has shorted his checks for years by not paying overtime.

In fact, Flores filed a wage theft complaint against JBM in an attempt to resolve the ongoing pay problem. He also spoke out about his experience with wage theft on a panel with Texas State Senator Garcia and Houston Councilmember Gallegos.

And when Flores received his first check after the hurricane, he says JBM did not pay him the correct amount. When his check finally arrived, it was short a little over $100.

It was at that time that Senator Garcia and Councilmember Gallegos stepped in to help.

“Senator Garcia and Councilmember Gallegos made personal calls on my behalf to McLemore, JBM’s boss, to make sure I got paid correctly,” he says. “And when I got the next check after the hurricane, they paid me everything I was owed. I really believe it is because the Senator and Councilmember called.”

Still, that hasn’t saved him from retribution from his employers. Since he’s made the complaint, Flores says they’ve cut his hours and challenged whether he was actually working all 24 hours.

“They were saying I wasn’t in the building and that it looked like I didn’t clean,” he says. “But I clock in and have to use a card to get into the building. I have the proof I was there.”

As a result, he’s forming a union with other janitors and custodial workers with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Texas, because unfortunately he’s not the only one.

Anita Hernandez was also caught in the hurricane while working her janitorial shift at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center. An employee of an outside janitorial services company, her regular routine of cleaning bathrooms, windows and escalators was interrupted by the flood of 10,000 Harvey victims who came to the convention center to seek shelter.

“When I got to work, I found a lot of people, refugees from the storm,” she recalls. “I was in the area with elderly people. It was sad for me to see them that way. It was a disaster the first day.”

Hernandez went above and beyond her regular duties, changing diapers for elderly people, taking them to the bathroom, cleaning them, getting their food and feeding them, speaking with them and sending photos and video to their loved ones in Mexico to let them know they were safe. She stayed at the convention center for a week straight, working late into the night to help those senior citizens in need.

“I had to do it out of humanity,” she says. “I had to do my job but I also felt like I needed to help these people. I felt like I had survived and to thank God. And I felt blessed to be in a place where I could help people.”

Hernandez had survived Hurricane Katrina, and says, “I didn’t expect to be in this situation again. That was the ugliest thing I have ever seen.” But she felt it her duty to rise to the occasion.

“I always had it in my mind that if we made it through Katrina, I would live to help people,” she says. 

During the Hurricane, Hernandez witnessed many sad moments and actions that left her feeling angry and disheartened. One particular moment during a discussion she had with a convention center supervisor irks her.

“They told me not to share about my experience at the convention center. To not damage [the company’s] image in any way,” she says.

While they have paid her overtime hours, she’s currently working with her union, SEIU Texas, to ensure her rights are protected from any retribution for speaking on her experience.

In the meantime, Hernandez is working to rebuild her trailer home which was heavily damaged by the hurricane. Her husband and 17-year-old daughter are still living there and awaiting assistance from FEMA.


READ: Even Though This Man Was Already Carrying His Pregnant Wife And Three Children To Safety, He Also Rescued His Neighbor During Hurricane Harvey

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Two Kids Are In Critical Condition After A Shocking Road Rage Incident On The Fourth Of July

Things That Matter

Two Kids Are In Critical Condition After A Shocking Road Rage Incident On The Fourth Of July

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A road rage shooting in Houston on the Fourth of July set a family pickup truck full of fireworks ablaze, leaving two parents and two young children hospitalized with extensive burns.

A family of four are severely injured after a violent road rage incident on the 4th of July.

Credit: @NBCDFW / Twitter

A family of four was injured in an apparent “road rage incident” in Houston Thursday night after a suspect fired a gun at their car, igniting the newly-bought fireworks inside, authorities said.

The children, a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old, sustained “severe burns” and had to be life flighted for their injuries, according to Deputy Tom Turner with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office violent crimes unit.

According to authorities, the incident started at a Houston gas station.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The incident began when the family’s father got into an argument on Thursday evening at a gas station with another man who pulled a gun on him, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Department.

As the father drove away with his wife and two children, the man fired shots into the truck.

At least one of the bullets then struck the fireworks, setting off the explosives and engulfing the vehicle in flames.

The kids required helicopter flights from the scene.

Credit: @olivnelson / Twitter

Some “good Samaritans” stopped to help the family and took them to a nearby urgent care clinic.

The children were then life-flighted to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston with “severe burns,” the deputy said. The mother and father were also transported to a hospital.

The suspect is still on the run and police are asking for the community’s help.

The suspect, who fled the scene, was described by the victim as a mixed-race man in his 20s, Turner said. He was believed to be driving a light-colored, newer model Ford Expedition and he may have been with a woman and two other people.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

People Want Houston To Honor Los Tigres Del Norte With Their Own Day After Beating Cardi B’s Record

Entertainment

People Want Houston To Honor Los Tigres Del Norte With Their Own Day After Beating Cardi B’s Record

Univision | SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP/Getty Images

Los Tigres del Norte is one band that all Mexican-Americans stan. They have a way of transcending generations and the whole family can go to a concert and jam out. That’s exactly what happened with their last concert at the Rodeo Houston, which broke Cardi B’s record attendance…by six people.

We can all remember the first time we heard “Los Hijos de Hernández” and “Contrabanda y Traiccion.” These songs are just two of the reasons the band is still a force to be reckoned with today.

Cardi B stunned Texas when she broke the all-time attendance record at the Rodeo Houston.

Credit: @HOUBizJournal / Twitter

Cardi B got a crowd of 75,580 people to fill the Rodeo Houston on March 1. She beat Garth Brooks’ record attendance on March 18, 2018 by just three people. The record-breaking attendance is a true testament to the diversity in the Texas city.

Houston even honored Cardi B with her very own day, March 1.

Credit: suzannecordeiro / Instagram

Cardi B was presented with a proclamation after her show announcing March 1 as Cardi B Day. A lot fo people are saying it is because she set a record with her concert attendance but the proclamation outlines the reason for her receiving the honor.

“On the weekend of August 26, 2017, the greater Houston area experienced a life-altering natural disaster. Houstonians dealt with devastating losses due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey. Through compassionate people willing to serve during this difficult time, Houston has remained resilient in its recovery efforts. Cardi B was no exception and unequivocally expressed her support by mobilizing into action to hose the Hurricane Harvey Relief Drive on September 16, 2017.”

Just 10 days after Cardi B’s record-breaking night, Los Tigres del Norte rolled into town.

If there is any band that can get all of Houston to the Rodeo Houston, it would definitely be Los Tigres del Norte. The norteño band has been rocking out homes and families since 1968 and they show no signs of slowing down, nor should they. They remain as relevant today as they were 50 years ago and for that we salute them as if they are family.

Oh, and they totally beat Cardi B’s record for Rodeo Houston attendance by six people.

That’s right. Cardi B brough 75,580 people to the Rodeo Houston and Los Tigres del Norte arrived with 75,586 of their closest fans. Only six people were needed to officially unseat Cardi B as the most attended concert in Rodeo Houston’s history.

And some people went straight to the Nicki Minaj/Cardi B feud to share their joy with this change.

Dayummmmmm. Rodeo Houston has been hosting some of the biggest names in music lately with a slew of artists taking their shows to Texas’ largest city. Kacey Musgraves, Cardi B, and Camila Cabello are just a few of the names to recently rock the concert venue. They even gave Selena touching and, some would say, necessary tributes while performing in Houston.

People are truly wildin’ out over Los Tigres del Norte beating Cardi B for attendance.

Credit: @notradomrosio / Twitter

They really did that, though. Like, they legit rolled through, saw what Cardi B did and figured they could outdo her. They did and it seemed like they didn’t even flinch when they performed to the largest-ever crowd at Rodeo Houston.

Some people are flabergasted at how quickly Cardi B lost her title.

Credit: @d_vibesss / Twitter

How could you really expect a norteño band wouldn’t bring in more people than any other kind of musician in Texas? It is Texas and Mexico is literally right next door. It makes sense that the most beloved band in the Mexican and Mexican-American communities would bring in the largest crowd. It just makes sense, tbh.

Some are even asking Houston if Los Tigres del Norte will get their own day.

Credit: @CameronBernius / Twitter

Surely, Los Tigres del Norte have done something worthy of a day commemorating them. However, Cardi B was presented her proclamation tied to what she did for Houston following Hurricane Harvey, not just because of her concert size.

So many musicians have made their way through Houston lately and there could be a change to the most-attended concert in the near future. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see what the future holds.

READ: Camila Cabello Honors Selena Quintanilla At Houston Rodeo By Singing “Dreaming Of You”

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