Together, We Can Raise Our Voice
Updated: Sep 29
Lucas Hernandez, 27 years old, is a young man originally from Santa Ana, CA. He has two sisters and two brothers and Lucas is the third child of an immigrant couple from the State of Guerrero, Mexico.
The most important value he learned from his father is to seek knowledge and learn as much as possible. The most important value that he learned from his mother is to cultivate patience.
Listening to his co-workers, Lucas learned that currently Kingspan workers do not earn enough to cover their basic living expenses as "they have to go to other jobs, they have another weekend job, or they collect cans to supplement their expenses. The time they have been with the company does not reflect how much people earn, many have been working there for more than thirty years and earn less than the salary given to new hires, which is less than what they should earn for the years they have been working there".
Just before the COVID 19 pandemic, they were already starting to discuss health and safety conditions in the workplace. Lucas was inspired by his co-workers to join the campaign, and he began to learn how to organize with his more experienced co-workers by reflecting on their health and safety conditions. They talked about the bad air quality and the fact that they didn't have enough equipment to solve the problem that affected them all.
Lucas was convinced that “things are deeper than one can see at first.”
He knows that it is difficult to discuss the problems that affect them. But he learned that it is possible by "having a conversation with co-workers from other work areas", and often telling them, "maybe something doesn't affect you but it does affect me, or maybe you have a problem that is affecting you and they don't listen to you [on your own] and they don't listen to me [on my own], but together we can raise our voices". He learned to listen and observe in order to organize, he learned how to document incidents, identify risks and how to control them, and recognize the impact they could have if not prevented. With SoCalCOSH and the guidance of Eddie Sanchez, the workers at Kingspan learned their rights, took steps to prepare their complaint and presented it to Cal/OSHA.
"A leader is someone who can help you go in the direction you want to go," says Lucas, and although he is not sure how his coworkers' trust in him came about, ... he modestly expresses, "I feel like what helped me the most to become a leader is that I am bilingual, because sometimes people needed translation, or help to understand a flyer or information that the company provided." The truth is that Lucas and his coworkers have built a connection and relationship of solidarity at work, because he took advantage of being sent to cover or support other coworkers and now knows more coworkers from different work areas.
This month, Kingspan workers are banding together to demand health, safety, and recognition on the job. Gearing up for their action on October 20th, Lucas emphasizes the importance for the community to “be there physically supporting us and [show] that we are going to continue fighting… At the end of the day, all we want is for there to be a contract and for us to be officially recognized with SMART 170.”