Press Release

Nation’s largest nurses union stands with Rep. Casar in support of heat protections for all workers

Rep. Casar being treated by an RN on steps of capitol

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union and professional association of registered nurses, stands in solidarity with Texas workers and U.S. Representative Greg Casar, who stood vigil and went on thirst strike today for Texans affected by Governor Abbott’s recent decision to eliminate water break protections.  

Governor Abbott recently signed into law Texas House Bill 2127, which will take effect on September 1, 2023, and restricts cities and counties in Texas from regulating work breaks. The bill overturns specific ordinances in Austin and Dallas that require 10-minute water breaks for workers every four hours.  

“I’m on thirst strike today because families across Texas and across America deserve dignity on the job. But Greg Abbott doesn’t think so. During this heat wave, the Governor just signed a law taking away your right to a water break at work. It’s an outrageous attack on Texans – and threatens all workers,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas). “The Biden Administration must step in, override Abbott, and ensure heat protections for all Americans in all industries. Our government should work for working people, not for greedy corporations that exploit their workers and fill Abbott’s campaign coffers.” 

Extreme heat is a public health issue. So far this year, two workers have died from heat while on the job in Texas. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Texas has recorded 42 heat related worker deaths since 2011 – more than any other state.   

Two Austin, Texas nurses and members of California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee – an affiliate of National Nurses United – were with Rep. Casar to provide basic wellness checks and first aid, if necessary. Their support was part of a deployment with the RN Response Network, a disaster response and humanitarian aid network powered by National Nurses United, founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  

“As registered nurses, we know that it’s essential for workers to have access to water, breaks, and other protective measures that can help shield them from the dangerous effects of heat-related illness, including death,” said NNU President Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN. “Common-sense solutions like water break protections are critical to prevent workers from unnecessarily becoming our patients. National Nurses United is proud to stand in solidarity with Representative Casar and workers across Texas in fighting for the health and safety protections required to prevent heat-related illnesses on the job.” 

Dangerous heat waves are becoming more frequent, widespread, and intense due to the climate crisis. In fact, heat kills more people annually in the U.S. than hurricanes, tornados, and flooding. 

“As heat-related hazards grow, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must move quickly to protect workers, especially low-income workers and people of color who are disproportionately affected by heat illness, injury, and death,” said Triunfo-Cortez

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the United States with nearly 225,000 members nationwide. NNU affiliates include California Nurses Association, DC Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee, and New York State Nurses Association.