Our 2013 Rising Star Award goes to Cristina Tzintzun

The Rev. Michael Livingston |

The Rev. Jim Sessions

"It is an honor to be recognized for my work, but the credit is due to our members who are the brave men and women who stand up for their rights when they are told they have none, who work 10-12 hour days six days a week, and still find time to come to organizing meetings to make the life of working people better. It is ordinary people like our members who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and risk firing, deportation, and separation from their families to stand up for the rights of all workers.

"And thank you to IWJ. You have been part of building this movement with us, a movement that is about defending the human dignity of all workers."

Cristina Tzintzun

Cristina is the Executive Director of Workers Defense Project (WDP), a statewide, membership-based worker rights organization that is winning better working conditions for Texans. Cristina has been the driving force at Workers Defense Projecting, spearheading efforts to ensure safe and dignified jobs for construction workers.

A few things they've done:

—Won a federal investigation into Texas' deadly construction industry by OSHA resulting in close to 1,500 citations and fines totaling almost $2 million.

—Won paid rest breaks for Austin's 50,000 construction workers.

—Won a 500 percent increase in tax fraud investigations of the construction industry by the Texas workforce commission.

—Passed a statewide Wage Theft law.

—Trained 13,000 low-wage workers about their employment rights and how to best defend them.

—Educated 95 contractors about their rights and responsibilities.

—Recovered $1,000,000 in back wages for nearly 1,100 low-wage workers.

—Graduated 200 immigrant workers from English as Second Language courses.

—Won changes in city contracts to require basic safety trainings for all construction workers on city-funded sites.

—Defeated Anti-Day Labor bills at the city and state level.

—Won Creation of Nationwide Safety Program: In response to the Workers Defense Projectís campaign to rectify unsafe working conditions on construction sites in Texas, OSHA recently launched a pilot program in 11 different cities, including Austin.

History suggests that young people lead the most significant social change. Dr. King at 26. Cesar Chavez in his twenties. Those of us older can help, but often the most daring, the most visionary, the most courageous, are young people. Who would have thought one could try to clean up the construction industry in Texas?

I'll tell you who. Cristina.

Interfaith Worker Justice is proud to have Workers Defense Project in the worker center network. In fact, Cristina and Workers Defense Project is setting the bar and routinely raising the bar for others. Cristina is a star, but a rising star who will take all of us to new heights.

Please join me in giving Cristina the Rising Star Award.